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3. GAME CONSIDERATIONS - Early game (raubritters, thieves, demoniac villagers, etc.)

Character Generation

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 attributes as 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. [grin]

Travelling by land - meeting travellers (bandits, alchemists, bishops, noblemen, pigs, wolves, etc.)

--This section contributed by CMB--

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.

Alchemists offer or demand exchanges of potions. If you encounter an aggressive alchemist and defeat him and his retinue in combat, you will be able to keep the potions you find on him. You can freely refuse exchanges with non-aggressive alchemists.

Bishops, noblemen and hermits have a right to make demands upon your purse. Refusal to pay the price (or appropriately argue your case) and engaging them in combat results in a loss of Virtue, as a sign that this sort of action is not tolerated in 15th century Germany. Do not try to attack the abode of a legitimate lord. Travelling pilgrims and displaced villagers can be assisted with gifts of money and clothing or by accompanying the former to their destination. This latter action is not necessary if you donate a few groschen. Any of these actions serve to increase your virtue.

Another type of encounter is the virtuous hermit who will give you news and instructions in a saint you wouldn't find in monasteries, and the women with the dogs. This is a special case. You must observe these women to determine who they are. There are two types: a female hermit (or white witch) and a practicioner of the black arts. The first one you must leave alone and any attempt to disrupt her will result in loss of Virtue. The second one, however, must be defeated and she can be asked to reveal information about the witches' gatherings.

The next kind is a village. 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. Villages are either good or bad. Generally it is possible to tell simply by speaking to the Schultz but the quickest way is to visit the church and go to confession. If the penance required is the sacrifice of a small animal, or while speaking to the priest he mentions two saints that don't exist in the list, you can then leave the church, speak to the Schultz and accuse his village of witchcraft, defeat the villagers in combat and learn the location and date of the next witches' meeting. Note that you may or may not be able to get there on time. If you can't, don't worry, there are quite a few during the year, as many as you will find villages to attack.

Mines are earthen humps with wooden frames over the doorways on the landscape map. You can enter and purchase things for your alchemist, raw materials and various bases. The best way to get a fair amount of alchemical materials at no cost to you is to defeat Knockers.

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Armour and weapons

--This section contributed by AvL--

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.

A short list of Armour:
Armour Use
Padded, Leather, Studded Leather Worthless, use only if no alternatives
Cuirbouilli, Scale Good choice in times of scarce wealth
Chainmail, Plate High-end armour

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Stealing armour, buying armour

--This section contributed by AvL--

A real good opportunity to get equipment like armour and weapons is to "steal" them from killed opponents. "Good" means it might be the most affordable way. For example, tracking down a Raubritter doesn't only mean a reward but also one set of plate armour. But beware! Here's the drawback in this cheap method: obtaining 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. Buying armour at an amourer's shop in a town usually results in a 35q equipment at best (usually around 27q). 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).

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Where to find good armour, weapons

--This section contributed by AvL--

As I pointed out the paragraph before, high quality equipment can be found in hard-to-reach locations. For example, you'll find plate armour in the Great Monastery at 45q! But to get there, your party should be capable of excellent fighting skills and more. 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.

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Improving skills by seeking out robbers in towns

--This section contributed by CMB--

Early on, you can't take on dragons and even most 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.

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Getting jobs

--This section contributed by CMB--

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.

Raubritters: in the easy setting, raubritters can usually be approached in a friendly manner. Once at the table, you should request to stay the night, then sneak out to try to catch the raubritter alone. More often than not, this will work and you will be able to defeat him, being four or five to his one. As this method will sometimes result in having to fight your way through the castle, you should save before entering into contact with the raubritter even if you insist on the easy way. Recovering stolen articles: You will be asked to recover an item stolen by a business rival in another town. You must travel to the town, seek out a secluded grove, wait for nightfall, then another hour, and exit by a side street. Go to the market area, sneak into the market building and find the appropriate office. The game then lets you decide to use your character most competent in artifice to unlock the door. If you feel this is possible (a Hanse [see C5, below] will always have enough skill), you will likely succeed. Otherwise, you will need to use alchemy and the noise means you stand a good chance of alerting the night watch. Your escape from the town will then be difficult and you will not likely have the item. Return to this town will be difficult to impossible as the watch will recognize you. Back to Table of Contents

Getting help (extra people, prayers to saints)

--This section contributed by CMB--

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. Try to 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".

Saints can assist you at various times: in 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.
AUDIENCES S. Alcuin, S. Raymond Pf, S. Wolfgang, S. Wenceslaus
DEALING WITH DOMINICANS S. Godfrey, S. John Nepl, S. Dominic 
DEALING WITH HELLSPAWN S. Anthony, S. Clare, S. Cyprian, S. Peter 
DEALING WITH LORDS IN TOWERS S. Gabriel, S. Hildegard, S. Isidore 
ENTER CITY GATES S. Lutgardis, S. Milburga
ENTERING CITY FM WATER S. Finnian, S. Florian, S. Pantaleon, S. Raymond Pf
EXIT CITY GATES S. Christina, S. Lutgardis, S. Milburga
GREAT MONASTERY (DESK) S. Adrian, S. Lutgardis, S. Milburga, S. Vitus
GREAT MONASTERY (FOUNTAIN) S. Boniface, S. Raphael, S. Gabriel, S. Gertrude Ni
GREAT MONASTERY (GRAVES) S. Catherine Si, S. Emydius, S. Gabriel, S.Raphael 
GREAT MONASTERY (MAD MONK) S. Martin Tr, S. Godfrey, S. Paul Smpl, S. Herve
GREAT MONASTERY (PASSWORD) S. Paul Smpl, S. Eric, S. Gabriel, S. John Nepl 
INVESTIGATE DEMONIC SITES S. Aidan, S. Boniface, S. Emygdius, S. Hildegard
PIRATES S. Genevieve, S. Godfrey, S. Julian
PRISON S. Bathilde, S. Dismas, S. Peter, S. Reinold
REFUGEES ON ROADS S. Roch, S. Sebastian, S. Lazarus
SNOWSTORM S. Christopher, S. Drogo, S. Godehard, S. Wilfrid
TRAVELLING MERCHANTS S. Catherine Si, S. Dorothy Mn, S. Herve, S. Martin Tr
UNDEAD S. Boniface, S. Emydius, S. Raphael
VILLAGERS/SOL. WOMEN S. Dorothy Mn, S. Heribert, S. Herve, S. Martin Tr
WILD HUNT S. Eustace, S. Hubert, S. Gertrude N.
WOLVES/BOARS S. Aidan, S. Hubert, S. Perpetua, S. Tarachus 
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Fighting tactics

--This section contributed by AvL--

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 of themselves. 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|-----------------

                      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.

--This part of the section contributed by FF--

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 so heavy, 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.

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--This section contributed by AvL--

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, some stuff is rather rare. Be sure to buy a lot of a rare item if you once have found it. You'll need a lot of all the kinds of bases. But Sanguine Base and sometimes Choleric Base are not available. 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:

Essence o' Grace: A must ! Assure yourself of having about 20 potions at hand during normal travelling. For special tasks, you have to figure out the number according your characters vunerability at that special time. I took over 80 potions to the Great Monastry with me, and even ran low !

Thunderbolt: Necessary as well. Needed as a Throwing Weapon in combat, useful when cracking locks and to get "access" to a castle. All-round potion.

Transformation: Very helpful. Turns an evil altar into white marble, and can get a character out of the quicksand really quickly. Needs pure gold to be made.

Stone-Tar: Should be in the inventory of every good alchemist. Helps you getting out of a pit, slows your enemies to provide you with accurate time to deal with them.

Firewall: Of great use when dealing with dragons and evil alchemists.

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. Purchased potions have a quality of 25q, while self-made have 35q-45q ! In case of Essence o' Grace, this can make a great difference in restoring strength. A nice occasion of getting new formulas is the witch in the forest. After defeating her, she offers you three formulas for her life (among other options).

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--This section contributed by AvL--

This is obviously of great concern. It is best solved by killing enemies. Not only by a reward, but by the equipment you can gain and sell. 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. On the other hand, if a "retrieving-job" or something like that is not out of way, why shouldn't you agree ?

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On to section 4: Game Considerations (Advanced Game)