The next class that I shall talk about is, yet again, one of the easier classes to play in general: the Barbarian. If the Archer is the king of missile weapons, you could call the Barbarian king of melee weapons. No one can surpass the barbarian in raw strength and brute force. They are quite enjoyable to play, and I recommend playing a barbarian (especially an orcish one) to any beginner - though they do offer some challenges later on.
I shall keep the structure of my Archer guide for this one, of course in a modified (and hopefully improved) version:
I. Manual Information - The most basic stuff, reprinted in place of an introduction.
II. Starting up the Barbarian - All there is to consider when deciding which kind of Barbarian to play.
III. Playing style - Brute force or no brute force, that is the question.
IV. Equipment - What you should use, what you should get
V. Barbarian vs. Boss - Hints on how to beat your most dangerous opponents throughout the game.
I. Manual information
BARBARIAN -- Barbarians hail from the harsh northern lands of Ancardia, from the roughest mountain peaks, the wildest hills and the most remote forests. What they lack in equipment, they more than equalize with their great strength, enormous toughness and deadly weaponry. Barbarians are very well experienced in the arts of battle and are well prepared to cope with the dangers of the wilderness.
Barbarians are trained in the following skills: Athletics, Climbing, Dodge, First Aid, Herbalism, Stealth, Survival, Swimming, Two Weapon Combat, and Woodcraft.
High-level barbarians are fearsome fighters. At level 6 they learn to deliver mighty blows that cause double damage (for the cost of 2500 energy points). At level 12 moving costs but 750 energy points. At level 18 they can deliver tremendous blows that cause triple damage (for the cost of 4000 energy points). At level 25 they start to gain +1d4 additional hit points per level. At level 32 barbarians gain a one-time bonus of +3 to strength and toughness. At level 40 they gain a +10 damage bonus with each melee attack when fighting as a true berserker (which basically means that they have to fight naked, e.g. without any armor, and switching the tactics rating to the appropriate setting). At level 50 melee attacks take up but 800 energy points when fighting as a true berserker.
IMPORTANT: Note that both the mighty and the tremendous blow count only for the first blow, even if the character is delivering a series of blows (because he wields more than one weapon, etc.).
II. Starting up the Barbarian.
Barbarians love the Dragon and Sword starsigns for their weapon skill training boni. They also find Raven and Candle quite nice, because Healing and Speed are useful to anyone, if only to run away and fight another day. Candle has the added bonus of providing an extra talent - most Barbarians can make good use of their talents. Raven, on the other hand, enables you to get a certain powerful artifact weapon a lot earlier than Barbarians of other starsigns. If you get one of these four starsigns, your Barbarians is set for a pretty nice game. Unicorn is again of use for those paranoid about corruption. The Falcon starsign does not grant Barbarians a new skill since they already have survival and is thus inferior to Candle; also offers an extra talent, though. Sadly, any of the spellcasting starsigns will not be of much help to a Barbarian, since they'll never become spellcasters worth anything even with the Book starsign. That doesn't mean you can't win with a Salamander-born Barbarian - it just doesn't help much. The Sword or Candle starsigns are probably the best.
2. General starting equipment
Barbarians vary quite a lot in their equipment. They do have some things in common, though. First, they all get a melee weapon of some sort, except hurthlings, who get a joke. Also, they get some very basic armor (leather or furs) which is inferior to, say, a Paladin's, Fighter's or Priest's. Sometimes, they get basic ranged weaponry, probably because they are skilled hunters. Barbarians also start out with more food than most classes, but I believe it's as random as it is race-dependant, as I have found loaves of elven bread even on other characters than elves occasionally.
3. Race-specific starting equipment, evaluation
Skills added: Food Preservation
Starting equipment: Amulet of luck, light furs, two-handed sword, leather boots, dagger, fire-making equipment
Pros: Lucky, two-handed sword is a powerful weapon
Cons: Mediocre strength and toughness, low PV, less than impressive skillset
Verdict: One of the weaker choices. The human Barbarian has exactly two good items: The amulet and the sword. With the sword, he can potentially defeat anything in the beginning; but due to his low PV and toughness, he'll still get hurt frequently and may still die. Also, he only adds one skill to the Barbarian skillset.
Skills added: Bridge Building, Food Preservation, Gemology, Mining
Starting equipment: Thick furs, heavy club, lots of rocks
Pros: Incredible strength and toughness
Cons: Troll metabolism and troll experience, short lifespan
Verdict: Very good, if somewhat stereotypical choice. Trollish Barbarians can crush anything that crosses their path and heal fast. Thanks to their high toughness, they even get pretty nice PV despite having only thick furs as armor. Also, Gemology and Food Preservation are regarded as very useful skills. Of course, they have the same disadvantages as every troll: Slow leveling up, increased food consumption, a short lifespan. Especially the slow leveling makes playing this guy a bit tedious as the game continues. I have yet to win with a troll. I probably lack the patience.
c) High Elf:
Skills added: Literacy
Starting equipment: Leather armor, hooded cloak, long sword, leather boots, short bow, some arrows
Pros: Literate Barbarian, long lifespan
Cons: Mediocre strength, low toughness, low PV, weak weapon
Verdict: A lousy choice. High elves and gray elves are, however, the only way to start out with a literate Barbarian. If you want to be able to read right from the start as a Barbarian, you have no choice but to play a high elf or gray elf - the former are the slightly better, if still terrible, choice due to better toughness and HP regeneration.
d) Gray Elf:
Skills added: Literacy
Starting equipment: Leather armor, hooded cloak, long sword, leather boots, long bow, about 20 arrows
Pros: Literate Barbarian, long lifespan
Cons: Low strength and toughness, low PV, weak weapon
Verdict: See High Elf. It should be noted that gray elves get a long bow while high elves only get a short bow. This is probably so there is a reason to actually play gray elven Barbarians instead of high elven. If you want that long bow and the higher amount of ammunition and don't mind the lower physical stats and HP regeneration, gray elves are for you.
e) Dark Elf:
Skills added: Alertness, Find Weakness
Starting equipment: hood, clothes, hooded cloak, two short swords, light boots, throwing knife, potions of poison
Pros: Awesome skills, long lifespan
Cons: Low strength and toughness, starting equipment sucks
Verdict: A nice choice for those who don't mind a bit of difficulties during the early game if it means having what is probably the best skillset of any Barbarian. They start with zero PV, however, and are thus very frail, especially since they deal lousy damage and have really slow toughness and HP regeneration. Make use of your poison against powerful opponents early on. Definitely not a recommended option for beginners.
Skills added: Detect traps, Smithing, Metallurgy, Mining
Starting equipment: Bone helmet, thick furs, battle axe, leather boots, throwing clubs, lots of booze
Pros: Decent strength and toughness, Detect traps, decent lifespan
Cons: Added skills either obtainable in-game or not that useful
Verdict: This is a good choice. It's not spectacular, but since you get decent strength and toughness to work with and don't have the experience penalty of a troll, it's hard to find any particular weakness as well. The armor you start out with is pretty decent for a Barbarian, though it does need work. The booze can be kept to recharge wands you find early on, or exchanged for other potions by Yggaz. That's hardly of use, though, since you can't use these safely anyway until you identify them - and to identify items, you need Literacy and a suitable scroll. I'd probably keep the booze for recharging wands, as Barbarians are terrible at regular spellcasting. Play one of these on New Year's Eve to get even more booze :)
Skills added: Pick pockets, Gemology, Mining, Ventriloquism
Starting equipment: Hood, light furs, spear, light boots, sling, a lot of rocks, firemaking equipment
Pros: Several useful skills added, equipment ain't half bad, extra talent
Cons: Low strength, low PV
Verdict: Despite the ridiculousness of the mental image, gnomes aren't that bad as Barbarians - they add some nice skills (Most notably Gemology in combination with Mining and Ventriloquism). Their large stock of rocks at the beginning coupled with their sling may help in dispatching early game opponents. Still, gnomes lack a bit in the physical department.
Skills added: Archery, Cooking, Food Preservation, Gardening
Starting equipment: Light furs, club, cursed ring, short bow, lots of arrows, firemaking equipment, cooking set
Pros: Lots of arrows, high dexterity, extra talent, Archery
Cons: Horrible strength, a friggin' club
Verdict: Hurthling and Barbarian? Almost sounds like it should be impossible, right? Well, they add some skills - the usual hurthling fare. They also start out with a whole lot of arrows. Indeed, their starting equipment makes them look like they'd be better as archers than as melee fighters. It's your archery that will enable you to survive the early game, and it can be improved with the right talents to make your hurthling Barbarian a missile weapon powerhouse. Find some decent armor and melee weapon, and you can go into melee like the other Barbarians. Hurthlings might never be the strongest in melee (though there are ways to increase strength to ludicrous amounts - stone giant stew, yum yum), but their missile skills make up for that.
Skills added: Backstabbing, Find Weakness, Metallurgy, Mining
Starting equipment: Orcish helmet, studded leather armor, orcish spear, heavy boots, some rocks
Pros: High strength and toughness, powerful starting equipment, nice skills
Cons: Short lifespan
Verdict: Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the best Barbarian race of all. I count 6 starting PV on equipment alone; add the toughness bonus and you start out with PV of 8 or more. Double digits are entirely possible (not even rare) if you luck out with starting equipment or become particularly tough. Add to that awesome melee damage thanks a decent starting weapon and super strength and the fact that you get one of the best skill additions for the Barbarian (second only to the dark elven skillset, Gemology lovers aside) - what's not to love? Well, the threat of being aged to death. Avoid meleeing ghosts, even bats and especially lords and kings, like the plague.
Skills added: Alertness, Food Preservation, Music
Starting equipment: Heavy spear, throwing club
Pros: High strength and toughness, Acid Breath, Alertness
Cons: Underwhelming starting equipment
Verdict: Considering the fact they get so few starting equipment, Drakelings are actually pretty good. Their starting weapon isn't bad, and they get some basic PV due to their high toughness. You simply have to find your equipment yourself. The skills of a Drakeling are also nice to have, as well as the ability.
k) Conclusion: Orcs make the best Barbarians. Trolls, while being stronger, lack the equipment of orcs and have to struggle with their low levelup. Dark elves, while being even a little bit more awesome than orcs skillwise, have considerable difficulties surviving the early game. Afther these three, dwarves and drakelings make pretty decent Barbarians overall, dwarves offer good equipment, drakelings nice skills. They are followed by gnomes and hurthlings, the latter being an interesting choice if you want to maximize the missile weapon potential for your Barbarian (which is probably a good idea if you plan on engaging Andor Drakon - Blessed humanoid slaying ammunition is one of the best ways to defeat him). After those humans, who have the best weapon but more or less suck in any other respect, and on the last place high and gray elves, who simply suck with next to no redeeming qualities. You should, however, gain some knowledge about the skills every race gets so you can build your own opinion who suits your playing style best. (Who knows, you might love the Literacy skill so much that you can't wait till Dwarftown to get it!)
It should nevertheless be noted that regardless of your playing style, orcs pwn the other races at being Barbarian so hard it's not even funny. You can't say no to an orcish Barbarian! Actually, you can't say anything at all because he already knocked your teeth out, but even so.
III. Playing style
1. Barbarians in general
Barbarians are melee powerhouses, and the good news is that they can win the game with this ability. Melee fighting, however, has its risks and dangers, the most notable being that while few enemies can attack from a distance, all can attack in melee. Some can dish out such an awful lot of damage that meleeing them is almost suicide. Luckily, all Barbarians gain missile weapon skills quickly, and a certain Barbarian class power would make any poorly endowed (seven leagues-less) Archer weep with jealousy. A smart Barbarian trains his missile weapon skills and makes use of slaying ammunition. Wands are your friend as a substitution for some spells. But if all else fails, berserk tremendous blows just might be the thing to kill your opponent in a last ditch effort.
Barbarians love to have high DV, PV, to-hit and especially melee damage. They also love to be speedy - as does anyone, granted. They have no use for Charisma, Appearance and Mana, and they don't particularly need to have decent Learning, Perception, or Willpower (high Learning gives more skill advances, high Willpower has an effect on HP, increases your resistance to confusion attacks and is a requirement for entering the Rift, high Perception improves your chances to evade traps and lets you look farther). Strength and Toughness are the most important stats, and high Dexterity helps a lot because of the speed, DV and to-hit boni you get out of it. Lastly, to be a good Barbarian you need to have some grasp of the tactics settings. Right use of them can win or lose battles.
2. Barbarian class powers
Barbarians get their two core class powers at level 6 and 18: The mighty blow and the tremendous blow. On the first glance, you might find that dealing double (triple) damage isn't that nice if it takes MORE than double (triple) the time to get ready for the next move. Not to mention that while you recover from using your mighty (worse: tremendous) blow, the opponent has enough time to potentially score some bad criticals without giving you the opportunity to gulp down a life-saving blessed potion of extra healing. Fighting normally should deal more damage over a certain time and even improve on your abilities to react. So what makes the mighty and he tremendous blow actually worthwhile to use?
Two cases can be made. The less important: If you kill your enemy with a tremendous or mighty blow, it can't actually make any use of the time you spend recovering from using the blow. This way, by killing your opponent in one shot, you avoid having to spend several turns in which the opponent can attack you. For some opponents, going into berserk mode and trying to deal a tremendous blow is actually preferable to having a long drawn-out fight.
The other case, which is the more important one, is described with the following term: Monster PV. Mighty blow and tremendous blow would indeed be almost completely useless if monsters had no PV. It's simple maths, really.
Let us assume you have a weapon that always hits and deals 20 damage. Monster A has zero PV, while monster B has 10 and monster C has 20. How much damage will you deal
a) using normal attacks that deal normal damage each round, or
b) using tremendous blows that can only be used once every four rounds which cause triple damage
until 20 rounds have passed?
Monster A: You deal 20 damage in every one of the 20 rounds: 400 damage.
Monster B: You deal 10 damage in every one of the 20 rounds: 200 damage.
Monster C: You fail to do any damage.
Monster A: You deal 60 damage every fourth round: 300 damage.
Monster B: You deal 50 damage every fourth round: 250 damage.
Monster C: You deal 40 damage every fourth round: 200 damage.
Did you notice the effect? The higher the PV of the monster you fight, the more worthwhile it becomes to use tremendous blows. Against monsters with zero or negligible PV, tremendous blows (or mighty blows, for that matter) are only to be used if you are reasonably sure you can kill them with ONE tremendous blow and wait out the 4000 (2500) energy points (modified by weapon skill appropriately!) while not being attacked at all. The same thing is true if you use a weapon that bypasses PV: Tremendous blow and mighty blow will be mostly useless then.
Tremendous blows should, if possible, be used in conjunction with berserk tactics. There are two reasons: First, you get the maximal gain of the tripling with berserk damage; Second, you can be reasonably sure your attack connects that way. Nothing's more embarassing than trying a tremendous blow and missing, though it might not matter that much statistically. (Against a high PV monster, a tremendous blow hit may be better than four normal hits, but a tremendous MISS is just as bad...)
In conclusion, though: With the mighty and especially tremendous blow, Barbarians can sneer at high PV monsters and low PV monsters alike, and definitely don't need to fear not being able to get through any kind of defense. (Except if your weapon really sucks ass.)
Mighty and tremendous blows have to be carefully used, of course. The tactical disadvantage of not being able to react for a prolonged time should not be underestimated...
The level 12 Barbarian class power increases your walking speed by reducing the number of energy points walking consumes. However, when you're engaged in melee, weapon attack speed is more important. Still, it helps if you engage in missile combat - and most Barbarians do that from time to time. Skilled players make use of this class power even in melee, by attacking an opponent in berserk mode with higher attacking speed due to weapon skill and immediately retreating before the opponent can get a hit in, and repeating this - let the opponent come near, attack him, retreat before he can attack back - until the opponent is dead. It's the same method employed by Archers and other ranged fighters, only that it's safer with ranged weapons since you don't have to even let the enemy near you. And Archers have to use seven league boots or higher speed to pull it off like a level 12 Barbarian. Hurthlings are especially grateful for this class power, because it allows them to become great archers themselves.
Your Barbarian has reached level 25? Congratulations. The class power that kicks in now will kick in for every level till the last. You now get extra hitpoints in addition to the ones you already got because of your high toughness and being a Barbarian in general. Nice class power, because while having tons of hitpoints is good, having megatons of them is better. I don't think you can even have enough hitpoints. 26d4 is the total amount of hitpoints you will gain (1d4 for every level after and including level 25); why this may turn out to be as low as 26, it can theoretically go up to 104 in total. The average is 65 hit points. That may not sound like too much since endgame (level 50) Barbarians with high toughness (morgia, class power, potions of toughness...) can expect to have a value over 1000. But in blessed potions of ultra healing (another way of increasing the hitpoint count), 65 hitpoints would require about thirty to achieve. Every single point can save your Barbarian ass if you overestimated your battle prowess and meleed a greater moloch, so be grateful!
Level 32 brings a good increase of Strength and Toughness, the most important stats of any Barbarian. At this point in the game, both should be pretty high already so the increase benefits you more. Another nice treat in any case, even though this one is a one-time deal and you can possibly lose the extra stat points again.
Level 40 and 50 have to be evaluated together because they serve the same purpose: Improving the Barbarian's abilities as a true berserker. Fighting as a true berserker is like a stage above normal berserking, only that your to-hit and damage is increased while DV stays the same as in berserk mode. To be a true berserker, however, you must not wear armor while berserking. No helmets, body armor, girdles, bracers, gauntlets, boots. You may only equip amulets and rings, a weapon and a shield as well as missile weapons, missiles and tools. Only if you meet these requirements will you get the "You lust for blood!" message once you attack an opponent in berserk mode, and thus be a true berserker. Needless to say, this is a risky route to take. On level 50 and even level 40, you don't actually need to be a true berserker to utterly destroy everything in your path, and it might be more worthwhile to engage dangerous opponents properly protected. Nevertheless, a true berserker landing a tremendous blow with Vanquisher is probably the highest in melee damage you will ever get with any character (insta-killing hits of the assassin and monk aside). Depending on the quality of your rings, amulets and shields, your skills, talents and weapon skills and your dexterity and toughness attributes, you'll get at least some degree of DV/PV even while true berserking. If you feel that the enormous increase in damage and attack speed on level 50 justifies the sacrificed armor value, by all means go ahead. After all, there are few things cooler than a true berserking barbarian! Though there are also few things deader if you don't watch out... (Don't forget that while in true berserk mode, you can't distinguish friend from foe - meaning you don't get "Do you really want to attack (whoever)" messages anymore...)
3. Monsters to watch out for
Actually, there are not many monsters that pose a serious problem to Barbarians. While they may pose a threat, your Barbarian is still fully capable of destroying them. In the early game, gray oozes and ochre jellies have the annoying habit of dissolving your melee weapon; if you fight hordes (or even one) of these, you should either switch to a stone, eternium or artifact weapon (as only these are immune to corrosion) or to missile attacks. If you have none of these, you can also try your luck with unarmed attacks, but that's going to destroy your gauntlets and damage you unless you have artifact gauntlets or acid resistance. If you have artifact or eternium boots, you can also kick the jelly without suffering damage. It doesn't help that gray oozes and ochre jellies are breeders. Another way of dealing with them might be to use expendable melee weapons, but they get corroded so badly so quickly killing the jelly will take forever, giving them time to breed. If you took the time to pick up all those crude knives from those last three orc tension rooms, throw them instead. Using spare gloves and boots might be another way. And note that fighting jelly is a method useful to get rid of cursed melee weapons, boots or gloves.
There are a lot of enemies that either hit so hard or have so dangerous effects that you should rather switch to missile weapons or at least defeat them quickly (eternium golems, greater molochs, emperor liches). There is only one opponent, however, that is not only too dangerous to engage in melee against, but also immune to missile attacks: You. I mean a doppleganger king. Doppleganger kings have several attacks, each one of these with an attack power possibly greater than that of your own character. And in case you forgot, your Barbarian deals loads of damage! Like with any doppleganger, missiles are simply deflected. Your only chance against doppleganger kings is spells, and your pretty much only source of spells is wands. Hit 'em with magic missiles, cold, acid, fire, lightning - whatever you have, until they finally croak. Thankfully they do not seem to be able to copy your immunities and resistances, and they are so rare and appear so late in the game you're bound to have enough wands to deal with them. You could also cast a darkness spell (scroll or crystal) and try to engange in melee; I heard doppleganger kings can't fight back in the darkness. In that case, switch to berserk, as that makes the doppleganger king easier to hit. You can also try to throw a potion of exchange at the bastard. And if all else fails, run away. And DON'T let one get near you! Luckily, doppleganger kings are rare. Still, once you have advanced far enough, I strongly advise you watch out for opponents with the same symbol as yourself. It could be a caveman. It could just be your old buddy Hawkslayer you hired. It could be weaker dopplegangers. But a doppleganger king will confuse you so you won't get away and hit you like hell in the same round - even kill you. Watch out!
4. Battle tactics
Your tactics stance depends heavily on the type of your opponent and your own equipment. Generally, you should not fight too defensively, especially if you're not wearing a shield. That may sound contradictory - surely you need to be more careful if you do not have a shield to rely on? - but remember that you acquire less weapon skill marks while fighting defensively, and more shield marks instead. So if you fight defensively without a shield to gain shield skill marks with, you won't accumulate a lot of marks in general.
Switch to coward you should for every turn, however, in which you neither attack or use ranged weapons. For example, if you drink a potion or use a scroll or wand, or even walk around (though it tires me out to walk around in Coward all the time and switch for every single fucking goblin - remember that killing monsters while in coward mode doesn't train weapon skills). For missile attacks the basic archer principle still applies: If they can't hit you, go berserk!
Does your opponent attack slowly and not hit hard, but you don't have much time yourself due to being poisoned or soon to be surrounded? Berserk him away! Has your opponent annoyingly high PV? Use berserk or very aggressive tremendous blows. Are you almost dead and your opponent still has half his life? Switch to berserk and do a tremendous blow - you just might survive. Generally, if you are reasonably sure one more berserk tremendous blow will do the trick and there are no other (notable) opponents around, go ahead.
Once you've obtained the Tactics skill and increased it to decent values, you'll notice that using normal tactics at all is suboptimal, simply because all the other settings offer a lot of gain for little sacrifice. Choose Aggressive or Defensive instead, or Very Aggressive and Very Defensive.
Hit and run tactics are also very useful. You need high movement and attack speeds for that. Starting from level 12, the former is guaranteed. The latter will also be easily obtained simply by training melee weapon skills.
5. Mad Barbarian skillz
A wonderful skill. It increases your speed as well as your chance to get physical stat increases. Strength, Dexterity, Toughness and Appearance are increased more often while having this skill. Higher skill values get you more speed and increase the chances to get a stat increase. You want this skill at 100 as soon as possible, to get the best out of the increases and because speed is awesome. It levels up easy, so you should manage to get there during your early tens.
This skill can, in one situation, save your hide: When you've fallen into a pit while on the run from an unbeatable monster. Your chance to climb out of the pit in time is directly influenced by the Climbing skill. Unbeatable monsters are rare for Barbarians. Pit traps are also not exactly plenty. To get both at once is extremely unlikely. Apart from that, Climbing has the semi-useful treat that you can climb through mountain ranges faster if your skill level is higher. Given the time PCs of all classes have to spend in the mountain ranges (next to none; almost the only place you need to climb through mountain ranges to get to is the valley in the upper left part of the wilderness) this is hardly useful. Climbing needs to be maxed, however, if you want to climb down the Rift. Without 100 skill points in Climbing, that dungeon and the Library it contains a passage to are utterly unreachable. Now, you're a Barbarian, so a Library may be the last place you want to visit - unless you want to get the weird tome to exchange it for five scrolls of chaos resistance. Well, finally interested?
Similar to Athletics in that it's awesome and certain skill levels in it translate directly into a bonus for an important value, this time DV. Higher DV means less likely to be hit by monsters. Barbarians throw themselves into the fray of battle frequently, and thus have every reason to have this skill as high as possible - even the fiercest warrior doesn't have unlimited hitpoints. Max it as the levels come by. Note that for some reason, Dodge becomes hard to raise beyond the sixties at higher character levels (probably because training it seems to get more difficult), so don't neglect this skill - you want it at 100 under all circumstances!
d) First Aid
A good helper in the early game, where every hitpoint can save your ass. After you've suffered damage for any reason (self-induced spell damage may not qualify, though) you can apply this skill to patch up the worst. This also holds true for poison damage and feverish fits caused by sickness. Sometimes, the poison loses some of its power and may even be removed after successfully applying First Aid. Sometimes, even your sickness may be healed. The First Aid skill can mean the difference between life and death, but its success depends largely on its skill level: A low-level First Aid skill is unreliable at best. Later on, when you have obtained Healing and regeneration items and lots of spenseweed, alraunia antidote and curaria mancox, First Aid will become obsolete. Increasing this skill should either be done during the first levels or not at all.
You can apply this skill on a shopkeeper, with success depending on the skill value and probably the charisma stat. If you succeed, prices will drop. If you fail, prices will rise. Skill advances are too precious to waste on this useless nonsense. Also, don't use this skill if your skill level is low, the effect will be disastrous. If you decide, for some unfathomable reason, to invest in this skill, make sure it is very high before you even think about using it. And try to have the Charisma to back up your feeble efforts.
Some may call this skill very useful, others may call it extremely uber-useful. When you encounter patches of herbs, you can pick them - that any character can do even without Herbalism. (ADOM does have its strong points compared to games where you have to gain six levels to gain the ability to freaking SIT DOWN.) With the Herbalism skill however, you can pick more herbs before the bush vanishes - and maybe even more importantly, you can pick herbs that aren't cursed. The cursed/uncursed/blessed ratio improves with every point you spend on this skill. At level 100, roughly two thirds of the herbs picked will be blessed. It's also possible to apply the skill on a herb patch to find out what kind of herbs there are. The intricacies of herb-harvesting should be looked up elsewhere, here only this hint: A 2x2 herb square (consisting of four patches) is the herb square you want, because even if you pick up so many herbs from one patch that it disappears, it will regrow eventually. If you find a lot of herb patches, remember that if you remove all the patches except for an L-shaped group of three patches, these will grow into the 2x2 patch. As long as you take care not to pick more than herb patch to death at once, you have yourself an infinite supply of herbs. Anyway, if you look at how herbs grow and wither away, you might notice that this follows a certain set of rules. Ever heard of Conway's Game of Life? Look it up! There are patterns that can lead to outright herb explosion, and tons of simulators available to help you find these patterns! (Want to know more about herbs? What, do I look like a gardener to you? Check the guidebook!)
This skill lets you hear things. Everyone and their grandma has this skill by virtue of having ears. With higher skill values, your character may more often get messages like "You hear the sound of rushing water" when a monster steps on a water trap, or "You hear the sound of toppling stones" if any monster was unlucky enough to trigger a stone block trap. Thundering explosions, pained yells in the distance and other stuff that would make for a spooky atmosphere if it were converted into an actual sound file. Note that this is also the skill, like it or not, that enables you to hear the wails of banshees (Don't worry, there is only one in the game and you won't meet her for quite some time) and die shortly afterwards. No, you can't unlearn the skill. Luckily, there are ways to become deaf. The Mad Minstrel actually has a pretty nice hint about that whole Banshee situation. ("Beware is what you need, understand this verb and take heed"!) The Listening skill need not be increased. Not only is its benefit pretty small, it also increases itself wonderfully and you don't need it at 100 for anything.
If you're stealthy, monsters will have a harder time seeing you. This means you can sneak up on and backstab them with the appropriate skill, or sneak behind them to better position yourself. It doesn't always work, of course, not even with skill level 100. And if you attack a monster, you draw attention to yourself. Barbarians aren't the sneaky type. This skill usually increases itself; it should be noted, however, that it might not reach 100 by itself until rather late in the game. There is, however, one point in the game where you want this skill at 100, or to be exact, someone else wants it: The Ghost Librarian. He hates noise. He REALLY REALLY hates noise. Only those with Stealth at 100 who don't utter a single word (i. e. cast no spells and don't chat with monsters) for at least 2000 turns (hell if I know the exact number) are worthy of delivering stuff for him - namely, the weird tome. Five scrolls of chaos resistance are the reward of this delivery. Read it again: FIVE scrolls of CHAOS RESISTANCE. Now you feel better about spending a couple of increases to max Stealth, right? Note that if you messed it up and did utter a word, it doesn't (at least not always) destroy your chances to get the weird tome - the timer is (hopefully) simply reset and you have to wait for 2000 turns (or more, whatever, give it to me already) again.
This skill is usually not important. In the early game, you might run into food problems - in that case, a high Survival skill in the wilderness might just save your life. However, smart players know that Munxip's large rations sell cheap. A high Survival skill is also useful to avoid being ambushed by unfair wilderness encounters like they can occur once a month or so has passed. Dorn Beasts for instance can paralyze and easily kill you if you're ambushed by them. Still, that kind of bad luck is tremendously rare. Increase this skill in case you have skill advances left after you've increased all your more important skills to the max.
Another one of those skills that can save your life in a tough spot. Whether water is what saves you from death at the hands of a pursuing monster or the obstacle that prevents you from escaping and saving your life depends on your Swimming skill. The better you are at Swimming, the less likely is it that you take damage while inside a body of water, and drowning damage becomes lower in general. The swimming skill also affects how fast you move underwater. It's one of those potentially lifesaving skills that come into play so rarely you don't know whether you should actually increase it. I feel safer in the early game with a decent Swimming skill, though, especially since your way to the next down staircase might be blocked by a river eventually - and sometimes there could also be no going back.
k) Two Weapon Combat
This skill improves to-hit and increases the attacking speed for fighting with two weapons. It's simple, really. If you don't plan on fighting with two weapons, you don't need any skill point at all in this skill. If you want to use two weapons, you should have this skill as high as ever possible, because otherwise your to-hit and attacking speed simply will be too dismal for it to be worth it. It depends entirely on you. Note that if you use a Barbarian blow, only your first weapon will actually be dealing the blow - the second will attack normally. That's why I think Barbarians aren't cut out for this Two Weapon Combat thing in any case. (Don't bring up Needle and Sting now - everybody can dual-wield them and be a badass, even a wizard.)
This skill shortens the time it takes to chop trees. That means it's useless. If you ever need a tree, you need it for Bridge Building. If you ever need Bridge Building, you need it at precisely one point in the game (You have Swimming, remember?). Even at that point, a wand of cold works well enough. If you don't have a wand of cold and don't find one, yes, in that case you may need some tree logs. But even in that very, very special case, you should increase Bridge Building, not Woodcraft, as chopping trees doesn't require any sort of successful skill check, and it doesn't save you time if you can chop trees quicker if you need twenty more logs just to get three bridge segments done. It should be noted that the skill becomes somewhat more useful if you manage to obtain the Fletchery skill.
6. Mad non-Barbarian skillz
Note that these skills can - aside from playing the mentioned races - all be obtained by either wishing for them or using a potion or scroll of education, unless stated otherwise. If a skill can also be obtained in the game with other means, the way to get it is also described.
A specialty of dark elves and drakelings. This skill increases both your chance to notice traps at the last possible moment, evading them, and your chance to evade spells cast by those pesky dark sages and chaos archmages - a useful and potentially life-saving effect, as you can see, regardless of early, mid or late game. And if that wasn't enough, high skill values even get you extra DV points. Everybody loves extra DV! In short, Alertness prevents your character from dying in many ways. It isn't quick to increase, but you should always be near your max for that skill. As it is unobtainable from anyone in the game and can't even be wished for (Wishing for "Alertness" only gives you an increase of your Perception attribute), you can only get it from potions or scrolls of education - if you're very lucky. That's why dark elves and drakelings are tempting choices.
All hurthlings like to throw rocks at cars driving by on the interstate, so they all start out with this skill. It improves your missile damage, to-hit, and (in some way) range. As described in the manual, a Barbarian gets +1 to hit per 25 points and +1 to damage per 40 points. With Archery at 100, you get +5 to hit and +2 to damage. That doesn't sound like a whole lot? You might be right. However, the Archery skill has another feature - it's a prerequisite for the talents Lightning Shot and Eagle-Eyed. The latter adds almost as much to-hit and damage as the Archery skill itself, and the former increases your missile weapon attack speed considerably. You need the Archery skill at high levels to get these talents; but that shouldn't be much of a problem. Hurthling Barbarians will be a lot better at using missile weapons than any other type of Barbarian thanks to this skill. Indeed, the "only" things they lack compared to real Archers are the Fletchery skill, a bit to-hit and damage and, well, the absolutely awesome archery-related class powers. However, they get a movement speed increase, a valuable asset for any user of missile weapons.
Orcs are sneaky chaotic assholes, that's why they start with this skill. It gives you an enormous damage bonus when you manage to catch an opponent off-guard, either because you're very stealthy or even invisible, or he's blind, or he was neutral to you and didn't expect to be attacked. Since even against your regular dungeon opponent this has a chance of kicking in thanks to Stealth and you use melee weapons extensively anyway, this is actually a nice skill, especially when combined with berserk mode and the tremendous blow technique. Imagine sneaking behind someone and in a berserk frenzy plunging Vanquisher into the back of your victim with tremendous power and a loud warcry! If that doesn't kill, nothing will. A very nice skill to have, especially if you find a cloak of invisibility... Heh heh... You don't need to play orcs to get this skill, however: Bart, the grizzled gladiator teaches it to you if you give him the golden gladius. Backstabbing becomes easy to increase after some hours spent on slaying monsters in melee, and the higher it is, the greater the devastation you can bring onto your enemy!
d) Bridge Building
Trolls live under bridges and thus have lots of time to study the intricacies of building them. You need a hatchet and logs to build a bridge segment, but there is a chance of failure depending on your skill value. Since you can swim and you can build bridges without even spending a point in this skill by using wands of cold, this loser skill does not deserve your attention. (It's true that ice bridges only hold if you're carrying not more than 2000 stones, but for Christ's sake - take several trips!) Trolls get it (without a manual, which makes it all the more pointless), but everyone else can easily obtain it too, especially since all Barbarian players with some Learning points left (so to speak) choose the Yrrigs quest to get Healing. Everyone does that quest to get Healing even though Bridge Building is the actual "reward" of the quest itself... Either kill Yrrigs to get his manual and learn Bridge Building from it, or save him and learn Bridge Building from him (or the manual that he leaves behind). Or just don't bother. You can only increase this skill if you still have your manual; allow for it to be destroyed and you have to naturally train the skill, which takes ages to get anywhere. I could rant on more about how useless this skill is (such as logs being heavy as ass), but I want to get to the end of this guide before I push up daisies.
Hurthlings love good food, and somehow consider knowing how to cook an essential part of becoming an adventurer. Note that you need to have a cooking set to use that skill. Hurthlings start out with one, but need to find another if that one gets destroyed. There are two possible outcomes if you cook a corpse or piece of raw or fish meat: Either you succeed in cooking and get a cooked corpse, fresh meat or fried fish meat, or you ruin the corpse, upon which it disappears. Your chance to succeed is directly related to your skill value. Cooking stuff increases the nutritious value and heavily decreases (but not completely stops) the rate at which the food rots. Because there are some corpses you can exchange for nice stuff - Guth'Alak will give you potions of cure corruption if you bring him the corpses of very chaotic creatures - it's a good idea to cook these corpses so you have a chance to deliver them in time. Hurthlings start with a high skill value good for everyday goblin cooking, but it should be improved further before cooking the most valuable corpses to minimize the risk of ruining them. This skill is nice and pretty much takes out starvation as an early game killer especially combined with Food Preservation, but pales in comparison to some skills other races offer.
f) Detect traps
Dwarves have a special attunement to underground dungeons of all type and thus start out with this skill. You know about the 's'earch command, right? A normal character without the Detect traps skill can only find secret doors with this command, while a character with the Detect traps skill can also detect traps located in any of the adjacent squares, including door traps. Once detected, any character should be able to bypass the trap, though low Perception and Dexterity values may pose a risk. The Detect traps skill only works its wondrous magic when you are actively searching your surroundings; your character won't spontaneously detect a trap with this skill (that's what Alertness is for). The skill value of your Detect traps skill determines your chance to find nearby traps when searching: Even with a skill value of 1, there is a basic chance to find a trap, though it is very low and it will take a lot of searching to find any trap. Note that Detect traps works with a ring of searching. Since the ring of searching causes you to make only one magical search check (which is "free", i.e. does not take additional time) for every step you move, you should have a high Detect traps skill if you want to rely on the ring finding most traps. Later on in the game, characters may grow so powerful that they feel they can simply absorb the damage of all the traps found in the dungeons - but they forget you can't absorb the emotional damage losing your only pair of seven league boots to an acid or ceiling trap causes. Places like the Minotaur Maze or the Mana Temple should not be visited without a means to detect traps, period. There is a wand that automatically detects all traps within line of sight, but wands can run out, be destroyed and be drained by the mana battery corruption - the Detect traps skill cannot. This skill is nice for early game survival, especially when you use it before opening or even touching any door. Yergius, the master thief of the Thieves Guild that resides in Lawenilotehl, can teach this skill to you for a price (usually about 3000 gp), but will do so only to members. To become a member, you need the Pick Pockets skill. Check the Pick Pockets skill description for further instructions. Dwarves don't need to go through all that hassle to get the skill, and there is no good reason not to obtain this skill for Barbarians of the other races.
g) Find weakness
A wicked and especially nasty personality grants this skill upon all orcs and dark elves. This skill increases your chance to score critical hits. A critical hit causes double the damage of what a normal hit would have dealt. This applies to any melee and missile attack you make. As a result of the higher critical chance, this skill greatly improves the damage you deal to all opponents on average, especially taking enemies' PV into account (The maths is similar to what was shown regarding the mighty and tremendous blow class powers). The effect becomes, of course, more noticable the higher your skill level is. Of course, Vanquisher practically makes this skill obsolete. But who wants to plan ahead for a crowning gift you don't even know you'll get? This skill is the main reason why dark elves and orcs make so DAMN SWEET Barbarians. Make it high priority if you get it since every point will make your life destroying monsters easier. It should be noted that the tremendous and mighty blow class powers can take the place of Find Weakness when it comes to fighting high PV monsters, so you can afford not to get this skill. But it's still damned worth getting.
h) Food Preservation
Being practical people and lovers of good food, humans, drakelings, trolls and hurthlings know this skill from the beginning. Its effects are solely passive. First, the food you carry will rot at a much slower rate, allowing you to keep it in your backpack for a longer time. This isn't quite enough, though, to completely assure that a corpse will hold until you have, say, delivered it to Guth'Alak - you need Cooking for that. It's still somewhat useful since you can keep around a stat-increasing corpse for some time until your bloated status wears off, for instance. The second passive effect of the Food Preservation skill is a lot more useful: It increases the chance that a monster killed by you leaves behind a corpse for you to eat. Yum yum! In the early game, this somewhat helps keeping your character from starvation, combined with the first effect. In the later game when food isn't a problem, you'll still want to eat the corpses of some monsters especially. Giant corpses, blink dog corpses, quickling corpses, giant slug corpses... Anything that increases a stat or grants a rare intrinsic is more than welcome. The effect of the Food Preservation skill becomes greater with skill level. Since this skill does nothing to actually influence your success and prowess in battle, you shouldn't put many skill points in it early on when there's still more useful skills to train - unless, of course, you find yourself constantly aching for food.
Hurthlings seem to think building a garden is what every adventurer should know, even if they live in Barbaric tribes and hunt for their food. This skill lets you plant seeds. You can plant herb seeds and plant seeds. Plant seeds can grow trees, which means they're useless. Herb seeds aren't useless since they grow herbs, and herbs are very valuable, sometimes essential, to success in ADOM. However, herb seeds are very, very rare, and you can grow herbs with holy water as well by pouring it on the ground. This skill lets you do something with those four, five herb seeds you can ever hope to find in a game and is otherwise utterly useless. It's not worth playing a hurthling for it. Note that you can obtain this skill by choosing the Keethrax quest and, after having slain Keethrax, ask Guth'Alak to be rewarded in knowledge. This course of action is not recommended, as the Healing skill that can be obtained by the Yrrigs quest is a LOT more valuable to a Barbarian.
Both trolls and gnomes seem to be fascinated by shiny things, the first because they have the brains to be fascinated by the shiny things in themselves, the latter because they can sell the shiny things for money. The Gemology skill allows you to identify gems on sight. Given the availability of scrolls of identify, this isn't impressive at all. The side effect, however, is very impressive: If, and only if, your character has the Gemology skill, pieces of wall that are dug up will occasionally leave behind gems, pieces of worthless glass and crystals. A higher skill means a higher chance not only to identify a given gem, but also of a wall leaving behand a gem. This doesn't even require it to be you who mines - even a wall mined by an ant or dwarf will leave behind gems. Now, more gems just get you more money, and the worthless glass is just as worthless to you if it comes by in large numbers, but the crystals are very nice to have in high numbers. They are also good replacements for some scrolls and spells if your character is illiterate:
crystal of power = scroll of power
crystal of light = scroll of light, or a charge of a wand of light
crystal of darkness = scroll of darkness
crystal of fire = one charge of a wand of fireballs
crystal of health = one spenseweed or pepper petal (roughly)
Only crystals of knowledge don't quite behave just like scrolls of magic mapping. They reveal, even if blessed, only a portion of the map. However, if they're blessed, they can do something scrolls of magic mapping can't do: Increase Learning. You know how rare stat-increasing potions are? With Gemology, a couple of pickaxes and lots of time, you can mine an equivalent of a potion of learning in almost infinite amounts! Now, there are some catches. Crystals of knowledge only work reliably until you reach the mid-twenties of your Learning stat (30 has been observed), giving you at least five skill increases per level. If you ask me, Barbarians don't need a Learning score of higher than twenty anyway - but the three most trolls and even gnomes start out with is definitely shamefully low. And if I had 100 blessed crystals of knowledge, I'd make heavy use of potions of exchange to get all my stats to mid-twenties with them (they are also useful for revealing the dungeon map in this case). Well, do you want this skill? It isn't very useful if you don't exploit it, so it's a question of playing style. Mining sessions are, of course, most time-effective with this skill at 100 (though it's hard to get there without crystals of knowledge in the first place...) and the corresponding Mining skill that both gnomes and trolls gain at 100 as well.
Only gray and high elven Barbarian tribes have established a certain level of civilization and teach their children to read and write (while other Barbarian tribes actually taught them how to be a non-sucky Barbarian, but I digress). Without this skill, you can't read and write, neither scrolls nor books. (And you also can't read tombstone epitaphs and fortune cookie fortunes, but that's only mentioned for the sake of completion.) Even with a Literacy skill of 1, you can read all the scrolls in the game; only the result of the scroll of literacy check will be quite unsatisfying. Higher Literacy skill values are needed if you want to decipher tombstones, write scrolls with success, and learn spells from books. While being illiterate can be tolerated in the early game, every character should obtain the Literacy skill if ever possible if he doesn't already have it. Luckily, it can be obtained several ways. First, you can obtain the artifact potion of Literacy from Thrundarr if you fulfill his first quest while illiterate. But if you don't want or can't do that, there is still a chance to obtain the Literacy skill from eating dark sage and black wizard corpses. If you get your hands on such a corpse, bless it just to be safe, munch it and notice how all those tiny specks of ink on that parchment start making sense to you! You shouldn't spend skill increases on this skill unless you really don't have anything better to do, simply because you don't need high values to read scrolls and Barbarians can't use books effectively regardless of what you do. See why gray and high elves are so lousy choices? First, they suck ass, second, the only skill they get added to the Barbarian skillset is one easily obtained for the others within the game. Poor beggars.
You need University and Gunpowder to get this. (Bonus points for anyone who catches the geeky reference!) Orcs fight a lot and thus use metallic melee weapons a lot, and ore mining is a part of dwarven basic culture. Barbarians of both of these races, thus, start the game with basic knowledge in Metallurgy. Metallurgy is similar to Gemology, since it allows to identify pieces of ore. Pieces of ore, however, can be easily identified by their weight, so easily, in fact, that I won't tell you how to do it here. You can also apply Metallurgy on an item to find out whether it is made of metal and with a higher skill level even what metal it is made of. This is somewhat useful if you want to find out whether an item is susceptible to rust and melting, and what ingots you can use to improve it. Yet, this is knowledge that you accumulate yourself, as a player, by playing lots of ADOM with open eyes and knowing the aforementioned method for identifying ore (or having the guidebook appendices handy...). This skill is useful only if you want to smith, and even for that it's far from essential. Don't increase it unless you really have nothing better to do with your skill points. Orcs and dwarves should be chosen for their other merits.
Trolls, orcs, gnomes and dwarves spend a lot of their time mining ore and gems and living underground, so it's only natural they start out with this skill. It increases the speed at which you dig through stone with a pickaxe, and decreases the chance that you break your pickaxe. The Mining skill is not required to mine, but it helps quite a lot, especially if you want to mine for gems and ore. However, there are wands of digging in this game, and they can replace pickaxes if you want to mine a corridor to those places that aren't reachable without digging. Since even with a 100 Mining skill, Mining takes some time and is unsuitable for quick escaping, this skill is not terribly important, just nice to have. The same philosophy should govern your skill increases - increase Mining after the more important skills are accounted for. If you love this skill, you'll still have to decide which of the four races that get it to play, though. Note that in the early game mining may be somewhat risky because of sleeping stone giants - in the later game, you'll simply drool at the though of stone giant stew and extra strength...)
Drakelings are reptiles, and all people know reptiles have a natural attunement to rhythm'n blues and stuff. They don't? Whatever, drakeling Barbarians still start out with this skill. It's only use is taming animals. To be able to tame animals with anything that resembles success, you need the skill at values of at least in the sixties, and it works reliably only at higher values, especially because a Barbarian has sucky Charisma. Considering a drakeling starts out at a single digit skill level and doesn't even have an instrument, it's immediately disqualified as an early game helper. Later on in the game, the only animal that is worth taming as a battle pet is a killer bug. Killer bugs can only be found if you have 100 entries in your high score list (i.e. 100 usually dead characters) and go to the bug-infested temple. They really are worthy of their name, and so can be helpful in dispatching all sorts of enemies even late in the game. Sadly, since you're not a bard, you always run a risk of your companions and pets turning on you. Do you want to get backstabbed by an extremely experienced killer bug? I tell you now: You DON'T. That's a powerful argument against the major use of Music. A minor use of the skill is that you can use tamed companions to kill cats without damaging your own kitty karma. Or you tame the cats themselves and let them be killed by monsters, whatever is more to your liking. If you want to invest in this skill at all with your drakeling, do it with a vengeance and spend some time practicing with your instruments so you can reach a halfway decent value, or don't do it at all.
o) Pick Pockets
This skill allows you to choose in which one of your pockets you should put an item you found.
Heh, heh. Yeah, bad joke, I know.
Even gnomes living in close relationship to basic nature's drives and with an inborn lust for combat, valour and honour don't seem to be able to renounce one of the bad habits of their race in general. If I ask you what you think you can do with Pick Pockets, the likely answer will be "Pick pockets, duh!"; but it's not that simple. What the Pick Pockets skill actually does in the game is create, in a mysterious and entirely magical way, an item out of thin air inside a monster's pocket, and steal it at the same time. This item can never weigh more than 10 stones. Inside the bounds of this restriction, all potions, scrolls, wands, amulets and rings and some other stuff are possible. Yes, that includes artifact rings and amulets like Preserver and the ring of immunity, and even the bracers of war. (And Soaker - but you don't want that artifact, as it's more like an artisucks) This means that every time you pickpocket a monster successfully you get an extra item you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. If you pickpocket ALL the monsters, you get so many more items than normal it's not even funny.
The reason it works in that particularly strange way is probably closely connected to ADOM's development. In earlier versions of the game, monsters didn't have an inventory, meaning they couldn't pick up or even possess items themselves; when a goblin rockthrower, for instance, shot a rock at you, that rock didn't even exist for the game until it was shot, and the rocks and the sling and the random items that may appear if you kill the goblin rockthrower didn't exist before as well. Because monsters couldn't, technically, possess any items, the Pick Pockets skill could not actually steal items from the monsters. Instead, it created items itself to give the illusion that it stole items from the monsters. Before monster inventories, this was necessary as there was no other way for the Pick Pockets skill to work. Now that monster inventories have been implemented and monsters can pick up and hold items, the Pick Pockets skill still works in the old way instead of now finally stealing items the monsters actually have. Personally, I think it's an oversight of the Creator; he probably did not intend for the Pick Pockets skill to be used as a way to magically create items out of thin air. I don't think it should be forbidden to use the skill as winning is hard enough as it is in ADOM, but a victory managed only with the help of pickpocketing millions of useful items is, in my eyes, worth less than a victory earned with next to no use of the Pick Pockets skill.
However, there is one purpose for which even I will use the Pick Pockets skill; and that is the requirement for entry in the thieves guild. You have to pickpocket a number of about twenty-five people or monsters successfully before Yergius acknowledges your worth as a thief. This is acceptable even for me, as I will only gain three or four extra items or so (A successful use of the Pick Pockets skill will not always produce an item). Only members of the thieves guild can obtain a couple of useful skills. For Detect traps see above, for the others previously unknown to any kind of Barbarian, check out the next section. It's not necessary in any way to play gnomes to get Pick Pockets; if your PC is nonlawful, Yergius teaches it to you for free if you talk to him, even if you're only level 1.
If you're like me, you'll only increase Pick Pockets as far as you need to manage entry into the thieves guild; if you want to exploit this skill (and again, I won't think less of you if you do, we all do what we have to do to win, except savescumming), level 100 can be achieved by your extensive training and skill increases, but isn't necessary, since even mith moderate skill values (such ones deemed "good" by the program) you get a very high success rate in pickpocketing your everyday monster.
Every dwarf is taught how to smith even their own children's toys and emerge very proficient in this skill with their adulthood. It's a very useful skill that can help you win the game greatly, but it requires a wide assortment of tools and material.
The easiest requirement to meet is the hammer; any kind of hammer except maybe huge iron hammers and the hammer of the gods (Don't know for sure) will do. You'll find one of these soon and easily enough.
The second tool is a lot harder to get: An anvil. It drops randomly next to never (which is as it should be; why would any monster lug an anvil around with him all the time?). There are two anvils guaranteed in the game; sadly, both already belong to someone else: Glod, the Dwarftown smith, and Kherab, the dwarven artificer, both have an anvil in their possession. You can, of course, kill them to get their anvils. Attacking Glod directly will lead to Dwarftown as a whole turning hostile on you, and Kherab will put up quite a fight - he hits hard and this with poisonous attacks. So unless you've already progressed pretty far in the game, only Glod is available. There are ways to rob him of his anvil without turning Dwarftown hostile. The easiest one is the use of the Ventriloquism skill: It will confuse Glod and turn him hostile, but no one else will notice you're the one who provoked him in the first place, and people will even defend you against him. Only gnomes have this option, however, everyone else will have to settle for another, more tedious method: Teleporting Glod out of his smithy and change positions with him until he can be lured off Dwarftwon through some stairs. Once he has left Dwarftown with you, you can kill him and take his anvil just like the evil chaotic bastard you are without anyone in Dwarftown noticing. This also removes him as a source of smithing-related services like mending items and weapons or removing the rust from them, though.
The third main tool you need is a forge. Forges can be randomly found in dungeons. Guaranteed forges are found, again, only in Dwarftown with Glod or in Darkforge with Kherab. The latter is out of the question as smithing takes time and Darkforge is full of monsters and a corrupting area to boot. The former is, again, a little tricky. If you already lured Glod off the level to kill him and take his anvil, you won't have any problems, but as long as Glod is alive and in Dwarftown, he will charge you for using his forge - even if he is several houses away. Luring him off the level without killing him works already, though. Also, forges are not that rare - especially the Unremarkable Dungeon has a fair chance of one showing up, and is uncorrupting.
No, we're not finished. Now that you have gathered the three tools and are ready to apply the Smithing skill, you can... remove rust. To do anything else, you need either ore that you can melt into ingots or ingots of the right metal that you can improve weapons and armour with. Ore is obtained by mining, and ingots by making them out of ore in addition to the few that are randomly found. To melt ore, apply Smithing and choose the ore. To improve an item, choose the item and then the ingot to improve it with (I'm not sure if you can do it the other way around). Provided you have the sufficient material, your smithing skill level is the only limit to how much you can improve a given item. If you have Smithing at 100 and even after several tries with your best effort improvement is impossible, you have reached the limit.
So, to recap: A hammer, an anvil, a forge, and an ingot of the right metal is needed to improve an item, and you can melt ore to get the ingot. And even without ingots and ore, you can still remove rust without a potion of rust removal.
Why go through all that hassle? It can be pretty much summed up like this:
Before: Crown of regeneration [+0, +0]
(Spend hours of game time and a dozen iron ingots)
After: Crown of regeneration [+9, +9]
Convinced? Note that you don't have to be a dwarf to get Smithing, as Glod provides basic training in the skill for a fee - which, I'll admit, can be high. Dwarves only save the money, since because of the rarity of the smithing tools a dwarf is unlikely to be able to use Smithing before a PC of another race would reach Dwarftown and get it anyway. Once you're there, all you need to get the proper tools, if you're ready to be evil, is a wand of teleportation or the Ventriloquism skill. And a randomly found hammer, of course. Skill increases in Smithing need not take immediate priority, but Smithing should be at 100 by the time you plan to use it.
Even though this skill can lead to a ridiculously easy game, I wouldn't consider it too overly powerful since the tools are so hard and the material takes such a long time to get. So feel free to use it to your satisfaction!
Gnomes have a knack for trickery and sleight of hand in general, and this particular skill is part of their repertoire. It allows you to confuse enemies. Confused enemies stagger around aimlessly and have a much harder time hitting you. Since apart from this skill, your only means to confuse enemies is by throwing your limited supply of potions of confusion at them, it's a nice skill to have. Success is directly related to skill value: anything in the lower range is unreliable at best, so if you want to use this skill on Ancient Chaos Wyrms or the like you'd better train it heavily. If you like this skill a lot, gnomish Barbarians might be just the thing for you!
q) Acid Breath
Drakelings have a special ability that allows them to spit globs of acid at their opponents. The strength of the avid produced depends directly on the character level of the drakeling. Instead of power points like a spell would, this ability consumes satiation; this means that if you're low on food already, you should refrain from using the Acid Breath. On the other hand, there are situations where a bloated character would love to lose his satiation so he can eat more stat-increasing corpses before they rot, like quickling or giant corpses.
A drakeling Barbarian actually profits from his racial ability in all the cases where an opponent seems to be almost invincible to melee or missile attacks. Especially against doppleganger kings against whom you pretty much have to use spells, the Acid Breath can provide an alternative way of dealing damage. This racial ability is quite useful and a good argument for playing drakelings, though any race can obtain a nearly exact copy of this ability through the sulphur exhaling corruption.
7. Mad skillz obtainable only the game
Here are listed all the skills your Barbarian can only obtain in the game - at least those he can get without a wish or scroll/potion of education.
Normally, when your Barbarian (or any fighting class) is surrounded by more than two enemies, he starts getting penalties to his own to-hit, while his opponents gain boni to to-hit. This penalty becomes harder to bear the more enemies surround you. Courage helps decreasing that penalty. With Courage at 100, it becomes barely noticable. A smart player doesn't let him- or herself be surrounded, but in case it happens anyway (sometimes you're simply that unlucky, especially in cavernous levels), the Courage skill helps out greatly. Besides, a Barbarian should know Courage by virtue of being a Barbarian anyway, especially since the skill is taught by a barbarian: the old barbarian living in the clearing a bit north of Darkforge, in the middle of the forest to the south of the Drakalor chain. But first, you have to complete a quest (Duh! This is an RPG. You may be the only person capable of saving the world, but you still have to pay for your stuff and you don't get crucial abilities for free!). To even qualify for that quest, you first need to have killed 500 monsters. After you have obtained the quest, you need to kill twenty more of the monster that was your first kill. This is one of the main reasons why every player should try to remember his first kill. Was it a goblin? A kobold? An orc? A rat? A bandit if you were very smart? Anyway, after you've killed twenty of your first kill, you can return to him and he'll teach you sum'thin 'bout Courage. Note that he only talks to nonchaotics; if you're an evil bastard, he won't teach or give you squat.
b) Disarm traps
This skill allows you to use thieves picks to disarm traps. Since the only other thing that could do that is a spell, Barbarians actually need to have the skill to disarm traps, being the lousy spellcasters they are. However, to disarm a trap, you have to know where it is. And if you know where it is, why don't you just avoid it? Traps rarely go off if you have halfway decent Dexterity and Perception even if you step on them while knowing they are there. And if you don't have a high Disarm traps skill, chances are you trigger the trap yourself while disarming it (which only really hurts you if it's a fireball trap, though). The same can't be said, however, for door traps - almost all of them will hit you if you fail to disarm them badly. But door traps are easily disarmed by opening the door with an at least uncursed key or a wand of knocking. All in all, this skill is of low importance, so I'd advise you to keep the money it would cost to learn it from Yergius. (How to learn skills from Yergius is explained in the Pick Pockets description.) Note that thieves picks can be very rare; there are always some in the eastmost part of the first pyramid level, though.
This skill is one of the first game objectives for a Barbarian. Its effect is simple: It increases HP regeneration enormously. The higher the skill level, the greater the effect. So no questions about it, you want this skill, and you want it badly. Two people can teach it to you: Jharod, the healer, and Kranf Niest, the mad doctor. Jharod will only teach the skill to you if you're nonchaotic and have proven "your ability to exert mercy". You can do that in two ways: First, you can lure Yrrigs all the way to Jharod, upon which Jharod will heal Yrrigs and reward you. Second, you can heal wounded monsters that have not been injured by yourself and are not hostile to you, for which Jharod will reward you as well. The reward is the Healing skill the first time, additional training in the Healing skill and a stethoscope the second time, and if Healing has already been maxed, you will still get a potion of ultra healing EVERY time you talk to him after having proven your ability to exert mercy. Niiice. (The catch is: Lacking the Healer class powers, you can only heal other people with the help of a Healing spell. Barbarians and spellcasting don't mix. Wands of wonder in combination with bookcasting Cure Light Wounds is about the only way to do it.)
However, if you're chaotic and refuse to change your wicked ways, Jhared won't teach you Healing even after saving Yrrigs. Instead, you can complete Hotzenplotz' quest and kill Jharod. As a reward, Hotzenplotz will send you to Kranf Niest, who will experiment on you, draining a couple of stats - Willpower and Learning usually - and taking your headgear as well. The result is a Healing skill of just over sixty. However, that was it. You won't get further Healing increases, stethoscopes and potions of ultra healing anymore.
All in all, it's preferable to be nonchaotic and receive the skill from Jharod, even though you get the Healing skill at a lower value from him. However, you can't always become nonchaotic that easily early in the game. It's doable if you do the Kranach and/or puppy quest and lure Yrrigs to Jharod, but the easiest way is with a neutral or lawful altar. If you sacrifice gold one per piece, you'll reach neutral alignment with only four or five gold pieces. I advise doing this on higher character levels or after several conversions only while wearing at least one artifact or some expendable equipment (like clothes [+0,+0]) in case the gods get angry and want to destroy your equipment.
Regardless of the way you get Healing, you don't need to train it as it trains naturally, but it can help surviving the early game to spend a couple of skill increases on it. With this skill, you can regain hitpoints in a reasonable timeframe and can even afford waiting around in one place for your HP to maximize again without spending too much food.
This skill makes you aware of chaotic and lawful deeds you just did. If you did something chaotic, the message is "You feel as if transgressing some law". If you did something lawful, the message is "You feel as if behaving in proper form". This skill is not very useful, because, honestly, with some brains and ADOM experience, you know that stuff yourself. Of course you are transgressing some law if you slaughter some innocent child or rob a grave! What also diminishes the usefulness of this skill is that it kicks in after you've already done what you did, and you can't make it undone. Still, you can learn for the future. The skill is not easy to get, however: You need to kill both Kranach and Hotzenplotz to be rewarded with the Law skill by Tywat Pare.
e) Pick locks
With this skill and thieves picks (see Disarm traps to know how to get them), you can open and close door locks. What sounds like a nice skill is actually not that useful once you think about it. There are two kinds of locked doors: Trapped ones and untrapped ones. The untrapped locked doors are easily kicked down. The trapped ones are the only ones for which Pick locks is of use. However, if you don't have a high Pick locks skill, the trap is likely to be sprung while unsuccessfully trying to open the door. Later on in the game, wands of knocking and keys take the place of Pick locks. Also, the Disarm traps skill can be used to disarm door traps, after which you can, again, simply kick down the door. This skill might be useful to use doors to hem in monsters without the appropriate key, but Barbarians probably have no desire to use such a cowardly tactic. Also, by the time you're likely to obtain thieves picks (they're rare as fuck), you should have an almost complete assortment of keys. This skill is probably not worth the money you have to pay Yergius for him to teach it to you. Still, it's your call.
You need Leadership and Conscription for this. (Yeah, I know... I gotta stop this.) Fitting that a skill as valuable as this should close the list! A sound knowledge of tactics improves the benefits and decreases the penalties of non-normal tactics settings: Your berserking becomes more brutal (more to-hit and damage), but less reckless (more DV); your cowardice becomes more defensive (more DV), but less cowardly (more to-hit and damage). A Barbarian who knows how to use the tactics settings to his benefit can only profit from the Tactics skill, and this he can greatly, as the effect is considerable. The higher Tactics becomes, the less worthwhile it is to remain in the normal setting at all; even a change to normal aggressive or defensive tactics will become a good bargain in either direction - the normal defensive mode is wonderful in the endgame since it yields usually a two digit DV bonus for sacrificing only a slight amount of to-hit and damage. It's a question of playing style in general, but everyone benefits from this skill in some way, even if it's only the chance not to be hit by a greater titan's quarrel while running for your life in coward mode. That's why you should get it in any case. Like Backstabbing, this skill can be taught by Bart, the grizzled gladiator; you just have to give him the golden gladius - and it's well worth it.
A very detailed and recommended section on talents is included in the guidebook. Here only my thoughts.
If you get only one starting talent, you should choose either Alert or Strong of Will. For me it's Alert all the way for Treasure Hunter, but you may feel differently. With Strong of Will, you can become a Melee Weapon Master. Being a Melee Weapon Master adds 3 to melee damage and to hit. Nice enough. However, you have to invest heavily in it: It costs 7 talents including the starting talent. Thankfully, out of these seven prerequisites, at least four (if not more, since you could find several different kickass weapons for different situations) can be called useful. Only Strong of Will itself isn't very useful in any case.
What is said about all the other talents in the guidebook applies. Just ignore Long Stride. Three reasons: First, you have Athletics, providing decent enough speed (If your speed sucks due to being bloated and strained, even Long Stride won't help...). Second, you get a class power at level 12 that makes Long Stride completely obsolete. Third and last, your Barbarian ain't a goddamn coward! If you want to be a bit faster before 12, choose the Quick talent early. After 12, the only thing that can make you even faster NOTICABLY are seven league boots.
I can't decide on a single "best" talent set. Sometimes your early game problems dictate the talents you take in early levels.
Keep in mind every Barbarian almost HAS TO take Basher, Powerful Strike and Mighty Strike, as all their crowning gifts (except for elves) are compatible with these. That especially holds true for those getting crowned with Vanquisher. While other heavy weapons may get six additional damage out of these talents, Vanquisher gets a whopping twelve against almost any enemy (and certainly all those of note), further amplified by berserk mode and tremendous blows to more than 36 extra damage with only three talents. Tasty, tasty damage... That's why I'd advise against choosing the shield talents until after your crowning: Getting Skullcrusher gives you entirely different preferences in that compared to getting Vanquisher. (For Grod, again what was said about Vanquisher applies - but it isn't that popular a weapon despite slaying powers.)
Aggressive and Natural Berserker are also a decent choice if you find yourself using berserk tactics a fair deal, which admittedly I did. The extra 2 damage are amplified through tremendous blows. Six extra damage, twelve if you're using Vanquisher.
Trolls and orcs suffer from their horribly short lifespans. Because of that, you might even consider to choose neither Alert nor Strong of Will, but Long-Lived. The loss of Treasure Hunter and Melee Weapon Master does suck a bit, though, so every trollish or orcish Barbarian LOVES that extra talent from Candle and Falcon!
"Average Melee Weapon Master Barbarian That Doesn't Want Treasure" (minimal talents):
Strong of Will, Careful, Defensive Fighter, Quick, Affinity with Weapon One, Affinity with Weapon Two, Affinity with Weapon Three, Melee Weapon Master, Dodger, Very Quick, Greased Lightning, Porter, Master Packager, Beast of Burden, Basher, Powerful Strike, Mighty Strike.
(Alternatives for the Porter or Basher chains are Good Shot, Keen Shot, Quick Shot. Also, Hardy, Tough Skin, Iron Skin and Steel Skin can be considered, especially if you're a dwarf and can get Mithril Skin as well - though that only leaves you with Porter, with minimal talents at least. The Shield talents may be a worthwhile alternative to the Porter talents.)
"Treasure Hunting Barbarian" (minimal talents):
Alert, Miser, Treasure Hunter, Quick, Very Quick, Greased Lightning, Careful, Defensive Fighter, Dodger, Porter, Master Packager, Basher, Mighty Strike, Powerful Strike, Good Shot, Keen Shot, Quick Shot.
(Again, it's worthwhile to choose the PV chain if you're a dwarf, and the Shield talents can be a worthwhile alternative)
"Barbarian Going Both Ways" (two starting talents):
Alert, Strong of Will, Miser, Treasure Hunter, Careful, Defensive Fighter, Affinity with Weapon One, Affinity with Weapon Two, Affinity with Weapon Three, Melee Weapon Master, Dodger, Quick, Very Quick, Greased Lightning, Porter, Master Packager, Beast of Burden, Free Slot.
(I don't actually know what to insert in the free slot... Maybe you could sacrifice Master Packager and Beast of Burden and get the Basher, Shield Master or Good, Keen, Quick Shot line with the help of the free slot. Personally, I think you have too few talents left after going for Treasure Hunter AND Melee Weapon Master.)
"Hurthling Archer Barbarian (two starting talents):
Alert, Miser, Treasure Hunter, Affinity with Bows, Affinity with Crossbows, Affinity with Slings Or Whatever, Good Shot, Keen Shot, Eagle-Eyed, Missile Weapon Master, Quick, Very Quick, Greased Lightning, Quick Shot, Lightning Shot, Porter, Master Packager, Beast of Burden.
(Makes wonderful use of the Barbarian's missile weapon potential granted by the movement speed increase and the hurthling Archery skill. Downside? Obviously, no melee talents. However, if you sacrificed Missile Weapon Master and some Porter talents, you'd free four slots you could use on Careful, Defensive Fighter and Dodger, and maybe get the Basher and shield master talents. Every hurthling should, however, pick up Eagle-Eyed and Lightning Shot, AT LEAST the latter. If you can't spare talents for that, you're probably better off with another race.)
The Barbarian heir gift is a brutal mithril two-handed sword. This weapon is capable of crushing anything in your path early on and might thus be worth to consider. A way to ensure getting three starting talents is playing a hurthling or gnomish Barbarian born in Candle or Falcon.
"Son of the Chieftain" (three starting talents):
Charming, Boon to the Family, Heir... (Follow the "Treasure Hunting Barbarian" routine leaving out the Treasure Hunter talents obviously. You'll find other weapons later on, so choose the Basher talents or Shield master talents depending on the weapon found.)
Both hurthling and gnomish Barbarians can end up with four starting talents. A very rare gnome might even find himself with five. With four starting talents, you may choose Heir and follow either the Alert or the Strong of Will routine (while paying special attention to Basher talents, especially if your Son of the Chieftain ends up with Vanquisher!), or give up on Heir, choose a build that combines Alert and Strong of Will, making good use of the extra talents.
With five starting talents (Should happen only once in a thousand, since even gnomes tend to start with mediocre Mana scores), you can even get Heir AND Alert AND Strong of Will - after which you'll have the "Barbarian Going Both Ways" build, if you like.
1. Melee weapons
Barbarians don't need much to be successful, but every Barbarian that doesn't want to be crushed by the really dangerous opponents needs at least one melee weapon. They're dangerous in unarmed combat, of course, but unarmed combat for anyone but monks and beastfighters is like fighting with only a knife - it's doable, but far from the best way. Barbarians are strong by themselves, but their strength becomes game-winning strength only with a kickass melee weapon in their hand or both hands.
However, the melee weapon is only one part of a Barbarian's battle prowess in melee: much greater is the influence of the weapon skill. Even the mightiest sword is not worth very much if your Barbarian still has to find out which end to hold and which to stick into monsters. If you want to become really powerful with a weapon, you have to train in it. A Barbarian that wants to achieve mastery in all the weapon classes, however, would have to play for a very, very long time, but the first levels are very quickly achieved in general.
In the early game, you should use the weapon that deals the most damage, taking your weapon skill into account. If you're already pretty skilled with your old weapon, using that instead of a newly found weapon with slightly higher damage and to-hit is better. But if the new weapon manages to be better even when taking the weapon skill into account, I'd use it, especially considering how quick you can achieve the first three levels or so in weapon skill.
However, sooner or later you'll find an artifact weapon. And some artifact weapons are more powerful than a "regular" weapon could ever hope to be.
Anyway, here's a list of the weapon classes. I'll give you a general evaluation of that weapon class, as some offer better weapons than others, and are thus more likely to be of use in the end of the game.
a) Unarmed fighting
Good weapons: Your bare hands and feet
Compatibility with the basher talents: None
Hands: Depends. You can fight bare-handed, wearing only one shield, or wear two shields and kick your opponents.
As has been stated, unarmed fighting isn't a very worthwhile endeavour for a Barbarian. It only does damage like a dagger or knife would, and this without a single magical property. While on Grand Mastery the DV offered isn't bad, Polearm, whip or staff (not to mention shield) DV is superior, and these classes offer some powerful weapons. It's cool to kill diamond golems in unarmed combat and a level 50 Barbarian can certainly pull it off, but your chances against the most powerful opponents in the game look grim.
b) Daggers and Knives
Good weapons: eternium dagger, dagger of death, phase dagger, orcish dagger (bloody), Emerald Bite, Needle and Sting
Compatibility with the Basher talents: Practically nonexistant. Only "heavy" prefixes might work.
Hands: 100% one-handed.
I'll admit it doesn't look very Barbarian-like, but daggers and knives are actually not that bad a weapon class to train in. Compared to other weapon classes, daggers and knives will always deal a bit less damage, sure, but there are very useful and powerful weapons in this class. First, Emerald Bite, a poisonous humanoid slayer with a higher chance to score critical hits. Second, the phase dagger, a weapon that bypasses PV. It should be noted, however, that PV is less of a problem for Barbarians than it would be for other melee classes because of the tremendous blow class power. Also, the magical suffix "of penetration" has the same effect and can appear on any melee weapon on any class. Still, phase daggers are the only PV-bypassing weapon that can be wished for. The other two very powerful daggers are the rune-covered twin daggers Needle and Sting. These can't be obtained until late in the game, however, and if you do get them both, they become so powerful dagger weapon skill isn't an issue. To sum it up, I wouldn't call it a waste to train in this weapon skill because of the phase daggers, and I highly recommend specializing in it should you find Emerald Bite, which you can be precrowned with.
c) Clubs and Hammers
Good weapons: eternium warhammer, large eternium hammer, Skullcrusher
Compatibility with the Basher talents: Not all that bad because of Skullcrusher. Hammer of the gods, iron-made large hammers and huge iron hammers qualify, but aren't that worthwhile to use.
Hands: huge iron hammers and hammer of the gods two-handed, rest one-handed.
This weapon class isn't spectacular. The only decent clubs and hammers in the game are either eternium-made or Skullcrusher. A case could be made for the hammer of the gods, but I feel it doesn't compensate for its two-handedness and rarity enough. Skullcrusher, a humanoid slayer with a nice strength bonus, is the reason why Clubs and Hammers still gets a decent rating from me, as it is a crowning gift for the Barbarian - one with a 33% (28% for elves) chance to get at that. It can also be found randomly, and thus be obtained with precrowns. If the result of your crowning is not Skullcrusher and you don't seem to be able to find it, however, I advise against fighting with clubs or hammers too long. Exchange your large eternium hammer for a better weapon.
d) Maces and Flails
Good weapons: eternium flail, mace of destruction, mace of disruption, Purifier, Big Punch
Compatibility with the Basher talents: High, Purifier, Big Punch and the magical maces qualify; eternium flail does not.
Hands: All the halfway decent weapons are one-handed.
This weapon class is not spectacular, but not that bad either. Maces of destruction and eternium flails are damage-dealers and otherwise not out of the ordinary. Big Punch deals even more damage than these and is a weapon you are guaranteed to get as the quest reward for doing the last Thrundarr quest, but it's heavy as hell. Maces of disruption don't deal a lot of damage, but are undead slayers and can come in handy against these, but mostly their base damage is too low to justify using them otherwise. The only weapon of this weapon class that really shines is Purifier. It slays Undead, Demon and Constructs (Unlife). This means it works against balors, which is always nice, and several other dangerous end-game opponents. However, with its low base damage and the fact it doesn't slay humanoids, it's not the best artifact weapon - and on top of that, very rare. If you do find yourself using maces and flails, don't forget to get the Basher talents, as almost any mace or flail that is worth using gets extra damage from it. The reason this class gets a relatively good rating is the damage flails tend to deal, which is greater than that of broadswords or battle axes made from the same metal. Maces of destruction (and Big Punch) surpass swords of sharpness in raw damage and are compatible with the basher talents. Still, maces and flails are somewhat less plenty than swords in the beginning.
Good weapons: eternium long sword, scimitar and broadsword, sword of sharpness
Compatibility with the Basher talents: Practically non-existant, see daggers and knives
Hands: 100% one-handed.
A classic of any RPG. You can't go wrong with swords, right? Actually, in this case it's not that good an idea. Barbarians aren't crowned with swords that actually belong to the Swords class, and the artifact swords that can be gotten aren't that useful. The golden gladius is okay, but you need the Tactics skill you can only get if you give it away. The sword of Nonnak does pitiful damage - it's only useful to spellcasters because of the willpower bonus. Justifier, the most powerful sword of all, is probably not available to any but those that can be crowned with it, and Barbarians aren't among them. Still, swords of sharpness are among the most powerful single-handed melee weapons that are not artifacts, and higher metal swords in general are pretty easy to find especially early on. This weapon class is good early on, but it tops out somewhere in the mid game in its usefulness. That's why you should probably switch sometime earlier.
Good weapons: eternium battle axe, Rolf's Companion, Executor, Hammerhead
Compatibility with the Basher talents: Very low. Only orcish battle axes and stone axes apply, and they're pretty weak.
Hands: 100% one-handed.
What do you see in your mind first if you hear the word "Barbarian"? A big motherfuckin' axe, exactly. Actually, the Big Motherfuckin' Axe (or great axe, or axe of the minotaur emperor) is not a part of the Axes weapon class - it's part of the two-handed weapons class. These are the axes that you can wield in one hand. This weapon class is actually not bad as there are good artifact weapons for it. Rolf's Companion can be obtained by lawful characters in dwarftown, Executor and Hammerhead have to be randomly found. Hammerhead and Rolf's Companion are very similar in power, but Executor is what makes this weapon class really shine: It slays humanoids and demons! The fact that it curses you is only a minor setback if you consider the humanoid slaying, probably the most useful slaying power of all. Of course, if you don't find Executor, axes are like swords: Mediocre in the end, good to use until the mid game.
Good weapons: whip of the snake, whip of slaughtering
Compatibility with the Basher talents: Practically non-existant.
Hands: 100% one-handed.
This weapon class is pretty horrible. Whips of the snake and of slaughtering are the only worthwhile weapons to use, and they are very rare. Even if you find them, they are quite a lot weaker than good artifact weapons and some eternium-made weapons of other weapon classes, and there are no artifact whips. Whips do offer a nice DV bonus, but the one the pole arms class offers is greater. So in general, unless you love doing things the exotic way or role-play Indiana Jones, don't use whips.
h) Pole arms
Rating: medium (good if born in Raven)
Good weapons: eternium spear, eternium halberd, Wyrmlance, rune-covered trident, Trident of the Red Rooster
Compatibility with the Basher talents: Low, Trident of the Red Rooster is the only powerful weapon that applies.
Hands: Fifty-fifty, the most powerful pole arms tend to require two hands to wield.
This weapon class would be a lot better if the Trident of the Red Rooster weren't such a pain to get. Even so, the rune-covered trident - available as a quest reward to all characters that reach level 36, or even 16 if they're Raven - is a very nice weapon since it slays undead and demons and deals pretty awesome damage. Most notably, it's effective against balors on D:50: If you are capable of defeating the balors on D:50, winning the game is pretty easy. A Raven-born Barbarian should actually try to get this weapon as early as possible: as soon as at least two uses of on-demand teleportation and a ring of the fish (or helm of water breathing) are found.
For most PCs, below level 36 you simply don't get very powerful pole arms save for a randomly found Wyrmlance. Eternium spears are a powerful combination with shields because of the DV bonus a high pole arms skill yields: You won't deal the enormous assloads of damage you could get with other weapons (though it's still assloads because of tremendous blow), but you'll be hit much less often. None of your crowning weapons, however, is part of this weapon class.
i) Two-handed weapons
Good weapons: eternium two-handed sword, Vanquisher, Grod, axe of the minotaur emperor
Compatibility with the Basher talents: Alright, higher metal two-handed swords do not qualify, the artifacts do.
Hands: Two. Duh.
For those who already wet their pants at the thought of wielding a big motherfuckin' axe, I have to disappoint you: The great axe isn't spectacular. It's almost equal to the two-handed sword in power - the iron two-handed sword. Higher metal two-handed swords are the two-handed weapons to use in the later game. Except, of course, you plan on using the axe of the minotaur emperor. Remember, however, how much of a pain in the ass the Minotaur Maze is for non-spellcasters.
Two-handed weapons might not be the best weapon class for anybody, but I think it's the best for Barbarians. That's because two-handed weapons deal the greatest raw damage of all - Needle & Sting aside. The higher your damage output, the greater effect will tremendous and mighty blows have. The two-handed weapons weapon skill itself assists this even more due to its unequalled damage bonus (Over thirty points of extra damage on Grand Mastery!). And then there is Vanquisher, which a non-elven Barbarian has a 33% chance to get, and there is Grod, obtainable with a 16% chance. There's a whopping 66% chance for your crowning gift to be a two-handed weapon in general (though Death's Blade is hardly superior to an eternium two-handed sword). Vanquisher is the wet dream of any Barbarian due to it's power of slaying almost ANYTHING, and Grod offers nice base damage, immunity to fire, higher critical chances, and at least giant and demon slaying. Even if your crowning gift doesn't turn out this way, an eternium two-handed sword is powerful enough to be used with success until the very endgame, especially if you find one with certain magical properties (penetration or devastation spring to mind). Still, Skullcrusher with a shield is probably better as long as you don't find one with those.
Good weapons: eternium-shod quarterstaff, quicksilver quarterstaff
Compatibility with the Basher talents: Practically non-existant.
Hands: 100% two-handed.
Of all the weapon classes, this one offers the highest DV bonus. Nice? Pointless, as it doesn't make up for the lack of being able to wear a shield. A good single-handed weapon with a good shield will always be better than any staff. Investing weapon skill training in this weapon skill is probably a waste. Except in the case that you stumble across an eternium-shod quarterstaff in the small cave or something, don't fight with a staff. Certain magical staves might be worthwhile to use for a spellcasting character, but you're a Barbarian!
2. Missile weapons
Why does a Barbarian need missile weapons? Well, first of all, you can't use spells. So what happens if you encounter an opponent that you can't engage in melee? Karmic lizards? Master swordsmen and ratling duelists with their nasty habit of disarming you? Hotzenplotz with his poisonous melee attacks? Fleeing enemies that are faster than you? You can use wands against most of these enemies, granted. But wands and the booze to recharge them with don't grow on trees. So there is no good excuse not to use some sort of missile weapon.
However, there is a second incentive to use missile weapons, especially bows and crossbows, and that is slaying ammunition. With "slaying ammunition", I refer to arrows and quarrels that have the power to slay a certain type of monster: "arrow of dragon slaying" for instance. These are randomly dropped by monsters frequently, and almost always come in bundles. And their power is obvious: They can, when supported by decent dexterity and missile weapon skill, slay the thing they're supposed to slay a lot better than your melee attack could - except, of course, if your melee weapon also "slays", but only artifacts (and maces of disruption for undead and rabbit knives for battle bunnies) can do that. And on top of that, slaying ammunition can slay from afar - and the more powerful opponents have usually devastating melee attacks or eat your stats as if they're pizza. Some, if not most, don't have distance attacks at all, meaning you simply get powerful free hits with your missile attack.
Lastly, when you encounter an opponent, normally you have to run up to him or hit "5" until he is next to you so you can use your melee weapon. But isn't that time better spent shooting some missiles at your enemy in berserk mode to soften him up for the melee fight?
So, we've established you want to use missile attacks, and I've given you a very good reason to use bows and crossbows. And I mean bows AND crossbows. Specializing in one of them means better damage of course, but I promise you that you won't find all the kinds of slaying ammunition for only one of these. What will you do if you train in bows only and engage an ancient karmic dragon and suddenly find out that all your dragon slaying ammunition comes in quarrels? Bite yourself in the ass, that's what. Train both weapons with the normal ammunition you find, the first levels in the missile weapon skills are very easy to obtain and already help a lot.
Slings, no (unless you're a gnome in the early game). Throwing weapons, hell no (Except, maybe, boomerangs of slaying or something like that, or to become a throwing spears specialist to prepare for the rune-covered trident). Missile attacks play a supporting role for your Barbarian, and bows and crossbows give the best support. Hurthling Barbarians have the added advantage that they get the most powerful missile attacks of any Barbarian, making them all the better at the described uses of missile attacks.
Some dismiss wearing armor as a sign of weakness. "Some" tend to die pretty easily. You should be smarter and wear the best armor you can find. There are two kinds of armor values: DV and PV. You become harder to hit the higher your DV is, and every time you are hit, the damage caused is reduced by your PV value except for the cases where monsters punch through your armor, as claw bugs do. PV is the more useful armor value in the early game. A PV of 10 or higher makes you invincible against the attacks of puny goblins and rats, and you won't feel much even from orc chieftain or kobold chieftain attacks. If you manage to get a PV value of 15 or higher, you can consider yourself very well protected for early game purposes. So in the early game, the PV value of the armor dictates its worth.
As the game progresses, monsters deal higher base damage, and thus their criticals add even more damage. Critical hits by monsters do not bypass PV, however - they simply deal double damage. Simply? Check the maths regarding monster PV for tremendous blows again - the effect of dealing multiplied damage. Well, the same applies for monsters against you! When your PV is, say, 50 (a realistic endgame value), and a monster can deal a maximum of 50 damage normally, normally you'd think you can sit there and laugh at its puny attempts to hurt you. But if that monster deals a critical hit with maximum damage, you lose 50 hitpoints. That's a lot - enough to kill you depending on the circumstances, after all, the monster could have several attacks and luck out with these as well, or you could be fighting several opponents at once, or already be pretty hurt!
The more powerful the attacks of the monsters become, the less reliable is PV, and as a consequence the more valuable becomes DV. When you become harder to hit, you will suffer less hits in general, and thus criticals. And if you do get hit, a reasonable PV value allows you to absorb most of that damage as well. A good combination of high DV and PV is what you want in the endgame, but it doesn't matter all that much whether your PV is 30 or 50 if you have a DV of 90.
Berserk mode lowers DV, but due to the fact that monsters are destroyed more quickly in it you're hit about as or even less often as you would have been in normal mode, especially with a high Tactics skill. But with a lousy DV from equipment, your Barbarian will still be hit too often, berserk mode or not - except, of course, you avoid to be even attacked thanks to attacking and movement speed.
For PV, it's pretty easy: Higher metals offer better protection. Better DV mostly isn't gained from armor parts (though some high quality armor parts give DV boni), but higher metal body armor doesn't have as high DV penalties. Shields are the most effective source of DV. In the case of shields, I consider DV the more important property in the long run (again, in the very early game, every extra point of PV helps survival): A [+11, +2] shield is better than a [+9, +4] shield. This is because of the special relationship the DV of your shield has with the shield weapon skill: Even if your shield skill would allow for a higher gain, the maximum DV gained by the skill is equal to double the DV bonus of your current shield. Your endgame shield should be either a eternium or crystal tower shield or the artifact shield Protector (or maybe the shield of raw steel - though that should be considered toying with fire!).
Another thing: If you want the absolute supreme armor in DV/PV terms, the Smithing skill is your ultimate tool, as it can improve any kind of metal gear by a very large margin - BOTH DV and PV. Check the skill description for more information.
Scrolls of defense and protection should always be preserved for those parts of your armor that can't be smithed and are pretty low on DV and PV already. Seven league boots or magical girdles (Like girdles of giant strength) are good examples.
4. Magical equipment
There is a large assortment of magical items to be found in the game. Some are of great use to a Barbarian. Since Barbarians are usually illiterate for quite some time, there is a need for wield-identifying (equipping items to see what they do). This doesn't always work, is not generally a safe thing to do, and for some kinds of items, it can be potentially fatal. The risk of being stuck with a cursed item can be considerably lowered by determining the status of an item before wield-identifying it, which can be done by dropping the item on a coaligned altar. If an item is uncursed or blessed, you will be able to unequip it again safely unless that item is auto-cursing. Auto-cursing items are rare, and for some types of items there are none at all, making it safe to equip these once you know they aren't cursed.
Rings of slaying are very desirable, as the six points of melee damage added by them multiplies when you take berserk mode and tremendous blows into consideration: the effect is equal to the effect of the Basher talent PLUS Good Shot, Keen Shot and Eagle Eye (to-hit increases of those aside)! There is a lot of other possibilities for ring slots, and sometimes using a certain ring is simply a necessity. Early on in the game, rings you find will not be even identified for quite some time. Wield-identifying is generally not advisable, as it is possible to find yourself crushed by tons of luggage due to equipping a ring of weakness, and you may get yourself stuck with rings of doom (very nasty) or of the fish, which both autocurse as well. However, the majority of rings is harmless; though any ring can be cursed and force you to wear them until water can be blessed or scrolls of uncursing can be read. Other useful rings include the ring of teleport control (almost essential if you don't have it as an intrinsic thanks to a pool or blink dog corpses, useless if you do), artifact rings like the ring of the High Kings, the ring of the Master Cat or the ring of immunity, rings of mental stability or speed (especially if they are of high quality) and other, specialized rings depending on the situation. (It's good to remember those two rings of acid resistance in your pack when you see an acid vortex heading right towards you, and the ring of see invisible is the only non-artifact item that grants that particular intrinsic.)
You'll find yourself changing amulets pretty often during a game. The reason for that is the wide variety of amulets that grant special resistances. While rings offer mostly elemental, stun and confusion resistance, petrification, paralyzation and death ray resistance is restricted to amulets. Pick up any amulet you find. When you encounter a gorgon, switch to petrification resistance. When you encounter a mimic or dorn beast, switch to free action. When you encounter Nuurag-Vaarn, an emperor lich or a ki-rin, switch to death ray resistance. Of course, if you have these resistances from another source, you can use other amulets in the amulet slot. The ankh is a nice choice if only for the added luck and the DV/PV offered. Amulets of speed offer a small advantage, as is true for most of the other amulets. You should only wear an amulet of life saving, if you have one, before a great battle, it can be destroyed too easily by traps if you use it for everyday exploring. If you're really lucky, though, you'll find Preserver, and then you'll never want to change your amulet again ever.
Early game Barbarians should remember that amulets of light are always glass amulets, and are very useful for exploring those dark rooms and adding to your range of sight. For all other amulets note that there is one amulet with a negative effect, which also autocurses - one that can slowly kill early game PCs: amulets of hunger. Wield-identifying thus carries risks. There is one other autocursing amulet - but you should be aware of its dangerous nature after having seen what it has done to its previous owner.
Helms of mental stability increase Learning, a semi-important stat for Barbarians, and grant confusion resistance, an important intrinsic. Helms of water breathing are only really useful in the water cave. Helms of teleportation let you randomly teleport, which is nice if you want to save your on-demand teleportation sources for emergencies. Crowns of regeneration are very powerful, but vulnerable to fire. Red, white and blue crowns offer elemental immunities for special occasions. All of these except helms of mental stability can be smithed to your liking! Wield-identifying headgear carries next to no risk - the worst that can happen is that you get stuck with a cursed low-qualitiy helm stuck on your head. There are no auto-cursing helms (safe for two artifact crowns found late in the game, which also both doom, so take care), so feel free to wield-identify all the helms you know aren't cursed.
The best girdle in the game is the girdle of giant strength. It has only one weakness: It can be easily destroyed, especially by fire. And suddenly losing 12 or more points of strength from one moment to the other is something not all PCs can deal with. Still, Barbarians LOVE strength. The regular girdle of strength is probably not worth it compared to a higher metal girdle. Girdles of carrying are very useful, but have the same weakness as the girdle of giant strength. Girdles of greed are useful in the Casino, and if you have at least the Porter talents, you can use a certain exploit to increase your carrying capacity to the potentially unlimited: Blessed girdles of greed increase your carrying capacity by the exact weight of your gold. However, Porter talents increase the capacity AFTER this has happened, meaning that girdles of greed actually yield a net gain in carrying capacity the more gold you carry: If your carrying capacity were 2000 without gold or blessed girdle of greed, but you have Porter, wearing 100 stones in gold with a blessed girdle of greed would increase your carrying capacity to 2121, meaning you can wear 21 stones more in total. Wearing 1000 stones in gold increases carrying capacity to 3300 (300 extra), 10000 stones in gold to 13200 (1200 extra), 2 billion stones in gold to 2 billion, 200 million and 2000 (2.200.002.000) stones, meaning you have 200 million stones of carrying capacity more to fill! However, you can easily predict what will happen should your girdle of greed be destroyed while exploiting this trick. Money belts, finally, are next to useless - if anyone ever steals from you, just kill him and take your gold back. You should refrain from wield-identifying girdles in any case. Not only can cursed girdles of carrying and cursed girdles of weight hamper your progress greatly: if your girdle is cursed, you can't change your body armor anymore, not even equip one after the old has been damaged or destroyed! However, it's safe to wield-identify girdles you know aren't cursed, as there are no autocursing girdles. Note that magical girdles cannot be smithed, only the metal girdles - which are usually non-magical - can.
Cloak have the annoying habit of not lasting too long, as they can all be destroyed by fire, water, lightning, acid or monster hits. The only truly magical cloak is the cloak of invisibility, and in some places it is a tremendous asset. Do not wear it constantly since it consumes food very quickly (and is, as has been stated, easily destroyed). Wield-identifying cloaks is safe - The worst that can happen is a cursed cloak with negative properties, and even that one will not be on your shoulders for long thanks to cloaks high vulnerability to item destruction. Cloaks cannot be smithed, but don't invest scrolls of defense or protection in them either.
If you find the bracers of war, the question of how to use this slot is settled. If you don't, it's not that tough of a decision either. Bracers of regeneration are probably the best. Bracers of toughness come on the next place. Bracers of resistance are pretty nice, as are bracers of speed, bracers of defense or protection are the most basic and least useful of the bracers. Except for bracers of toughness and brass bracers (and, obviously, the bracers of war), all bracers can be smithed. Bracers in general are rare and wield-identifying is harmless (no auto-cursing, no negative effects), that's why I usually equip the first pair of bracers I find (except for brass bracers, as they have no effect).
The best gauntlets for a Barbarian are gauntlets of strength, especially Ironfist. A pair of artifact gauntlets in general (if not Ironfist, then the elemental gauntlets, which are also very useful) has the added advantage that it protects your rings from harm. Only divine forces can destroy rings that are hidden under an artifact gauntlet. Dragon-hide gauntlets offer useful resistances. Gauntlets that are made of iron can be smithed. These include any kind of dragon-hide gauntlets, normal gauntlets, gauntlets of strength and gauntlets of peace (presumably). There are no gauntlets made of other metals than iron. Wield-identifying gauntlets is risky. While there are no gauntlets that cause you direct harm if you equip them, you can become stuck with auto-cursing gauntlets of peace, which are indistinguishable from normal gauntlets while unidentified. Also, being stuck with cursed gauntlets means you can't equip or unequip rings, a restriction almost as severe as the one a cursed girdle has.
Seven league boots are probably the best boots you could ever want, even though the Barbarian class power on level 12 is a good replacement for them. Apart from the seven leagues, there is only one type of magical boots that can be of use: Boots of speed. Their speed bonus is significant. The dexterity bonus of the boots of sneakiness is nice, but not really that useful. Apart from these two, you can pretty much only wear non-magical boots for their armor ratings. Metal boots can be smithed, and they come in all metals. Wield-identifying boots is a pretty harmless endeavour - the boots that can have negative effects are pretty easily recognized by their weights: Boots of the slow shuffle, though they are auto-cursing and have a very negative effect, always weigh 40 stones and are ridiculously rare, seven leagues weigh 30 stones and are either leather, soft or worn boots weighing 30 stones. When equipping worn boots you don't know the status of, you should have holy water handy, as cursed seven leagues are actually very harmful.
There are no magical shields except for artifact shields. The question of which shield to wear is thus solely one of DV and PV. Of the artifact shields, Protector is as powerful as Nature's Friend is useless. The shield of raw steel, a possible quest reward from Kherab, is very powerful, but contains the essence of chaos and corruption, making it a dangerous item to use. Shields can be smithed, except for wooden, crystal and artifact ones. Wield-identiying shields is not recommended since it is mostly unnecessary. You can recognize the metal from the weight of the shield in relation to its type (small, medium, large, tower): Iron small shields weigh 50 stones, for example. So if you find a small shield that weighs less, you know that it's made of a higher metal, and if you find a small shield weighing more, it has to be made of crystal. Some crystal shields are as powerful as the eternium variety of the shield type, some only live up to the adamantium variety. All crystal shields are better than their mithril counterparts, though. Wield-identifying shields is not that risky, but being stuck with an inferior shield when a better one is found can hurt a lot. If you know the shield isn't cursed, however, you can freely test it out.
j) Body armor
Dragon scale mails are probably best if available, due to their high armor value coupled with a useful immunity. Except for artifact armor, there are no other inherently magical armors. High-end body armor can pretty much always be smithed (dragon scale mail can as well, most notably - adamantium), artifact armor being the notable exception. The robes of resistance and Nature's Companion are pretty powerful armors despite this weakness. Smithing armor helps mostly with DV. Wield-identifying armor is not advisable, as body armor is a pretty important part of your equipment and potentially being stuck with cursed armor is not something you want, especially since there is a variety of nasty random magical effects for body armor (such as worm-ridden, charged, trapped, or auto-locking).
5. Crowning gifts
Barbarians can only get one of four artifacts as crowning gifts, five if elven. Two of these, Vanquisher and Skullcrusher, have double the probablity to become your new shiny toy. Let's look at these babies closer, shall we?
1 in 3 chance to get for non-elves, 2 in 7 for high/gray elves
+3 to-hit, 6d5+3 damage, -3 DV, slays humanoids, giants, undead, constructs, demons, dragons and jelly
The silvery two-handed sword, the only two-handed sword weighing 300 stones, is the wet dream of every Barbarian in the whole wide world. Sure, its base damage and to-hit is highly inferior to, say, an eternium two-handed sword, but look at its slaying properties. Remember that "slaying" means "double damage". And "double damage" refers to total damage, not only the damage of Vanquisher itself. All your strength, your melee damage increasing talents, your weapon skill damage boni, magical items that increase damage, berserk mode, tremendous blow, Backstabbing bonus - all that is DOUBLED if you use Vanquisher against the kinds of opponents it slays. And pretty much the only thing of note it doesn't slay is animals, and by the time you can get crowned, there is not a single animal that wouldn't fall before you, Vanquisher or not. With this weapon, your Barbarian is a devastating demigod of death and destruction!
1 in 3 chance to get for non-elves, 2 in 7 for high/gray elves
+12 to-hit, 3d6+2 damage, -3 DV, slays humanoids, +4 strength, resistance to stunning and confusion
Clubs and Hammers
The rune-covered club weighing 120 stones isn't too hot when it comes to raw damage. Actually, it's even pretty bad in that regard. However, you get four extra points of strength directly translating to more damage, you get the humanoid slaying power, which works against quite a number of opponents, and the weapon is Basher-compatible. This weapon is especially nice to have against Nuurag-Vaarn, as he tries to confuse you very frequently and several sources of confusion resistance increase your chance not to be affected. Also, Nuurag-Vaarn is humanoid, as are balors and Andor Drakon, incidentally. It might not be the perfect weapon for use against anything, but it's not bad.
1 in 6 chance to get for non-elves, 1 in 7 for high/gray elves
+16 to-hit, 5d10+5 damage, -8 DV, slays giants and demons, higher critical chance, resistance to stunning, immunity to fire
220 stones is the weight of the mighty morning star, a two-handed weapon which is also part of the two-handed weapon class. In raw damage and to-hit, it surpasses Vanquisher. Its DV penalty is hefty, though. Also, while Vanquisher slays everything, Grod slays only demons and giants, not humanoids. The higher critical chance and the raw damage makes it dangerous in melee nonetheless, and the immunity to fire is a nice gimmick. Grod is more powerful than an eternium two-handed sword taking the higher critical chance and the compatibility with the Basher talents into account, and it can easily destroy balors on D:50, making it worthwhile to use. It lacks the "Kill 'em all" feeling of Vanquisher, though, and it hurts your chances in defense with its -8 to DV. All in all, an okay crowning gift, but I'd be more grateful for Vanquisher, Skullcrusher or even Sun's Messenger.
d) Death's Blade
1 in 6 chance to get for non-elves, 1 in 7 for high/gray elves
+6, 6d8+6 damage, +4 DV, resistance to death rays
The heaviest of the crowning gifts at 400 stones, the ancient claymore "Death's Blade" is also the relatively worst. Its damage-dealing capabilities in comparison to a run-of-the-mill eternium two-handed sword don't look that hot, unless you have the Basher talents to support it with. (The math: Average eternium two-handed sword deals 24-48 damage averaging 36, Death's Blade 12-52 averaging 32, which can be increased to 38 with the Basher talents.) And while it has 12 lower to-hit, it somewhat makes up for that with five more DV and the death ray resistance. If Death's Blade is only slightly better than an eternium two-handed sword, how does it look compared to Grod and Vanquisher with their slaying powers? Death ray resistance may be more easily acquired with an amulet or the ancient mummy wrapping. It's not as horrible an artifact as, say, Soaker or Bugbiter, but it certainly isn't a reason to jump around in circles. Depending on your item finding luck, you could find yourself with nothing better to use, though.
e) Sun's Messenger
1 in 7 chance for high/gray elves only
+15 to-hit and damage, slays undead
Wondering why the elven long bow deserves a spot in this list? All high and gray elves, regardless of their class, can be crowned with Sun's Messenger, so if you ended up playing one of these races with your Barbarian, you may find yourself with this. Since Barbarians love to use bows and crossbows alike (as has been explained in an earlier section), they don't sneer at this masterpiece of elven craftsmanship, but cherish it! Powerful undead can show up anytime, and the +15 to-hit and damage far surpass anything a non-artifact bow can dish out. Say goodbye to those pesky emperor liches as your blessed eternium arrows shoot forth from this wonder!
6. Items to wish for
Aside from the items already mentioned in the previous sections (the good weapons for each class, the magical equipment like the girdle of giant strength or seven league boots) there is, naturally, a couple of very good choices for a wish. Like in the Archer guide, this should be taken as a general pool of ideas - except the first wish mentioned, which is very much worth it. Again, if you wish for items, always try to wish for them in plural - "pairs of" is the plural for gauntlets and boots.
- "Amulet of life saving", for the dying sage (Remember: Six blessed scrolls of chaos resistance 4 U!)
- "scrolls of chaos resistance", if you're paranoid (and have reason to be)
- "Find Weakness", if you don't have it and didn't get Vanquisher (Vanquisher makes Find Weakness obsolete)
- "Concentration", if you want to dabble in spellcasting affairs (but I don't make any guarantees that you'll be successfull)
- "scrolls of education", if you want to get lots of new skills (bless them!)
- "magical writing sets", should you have seen scrolls of education or of chaos resistance and want to make more
- "Alchemy", though it's folly to obtain it if you can't max it in time for the PoGA recipe
- "wands of destruction" for an easier time on D:50
- "rings of ice" for an easier time in the Tower of Eternal Flames
- ultra ending stuff
- "potions of quickling blood" (yummy speed)
- "potions of youth" (if you've been raped by ghost lords)
- "potions of strength" (bless them both and gulp them down for four permanent extra points of strength)
- "maces of destruction" in case you want a powerful, basher-compatible one-handed melee weapon
5. Barbarian vs. Boss
Why the hell are you fighting against Keethrax? You already have Herbalism and the black torc is shit, Healing is what you would have needed! Sigh. Well, it can't be helped. Against Keethrax, be resistant to fire, go up to him and start bashing him. If you engage him in a hallway, you can ignore the Darkness spells as you will be able to hit him just as hard in the dark. If he is in a room and stays in there, you should have an amulet of light or a torch ready. Keethrax can hit somewhat hard, so finish him off as quickly as you can. Mighty blows in berserk mode with a decent weapon should take him down in two hits. I'd consider fighting him with a Barbarian of level 8 and upwards. Below can work too, but you have to be pretty powerful, orc or troll for instance.
Don't melee him. Don't let him even come near you. I know, you're a Barbarian, honorable battle and all that, but do you have any desire to be poisoned to death? Good. If you trust your missile weapon skills enough, you may shoot him in berserk mode and hope that you manage to kill him before he reaches you. This works especially well with a Barbarian of at least level 12 because of the class power. Shoot, run away, shoot, repeat until Hotzenplotz is dead. Grunge and Munge can be meleed without risking poisoning damage, though they can occasionally hit hard. If you don't have missile skills good enough to do the trick, you can use wands. Wands of lightning or magic missiles work especially well if you can get them to bounce and hit Hotzenplotz twice with one shot. Simply seek a bit of distance, stay in coward mode and shoot until Hotzenplotz is dead, at least until a berserk finishing blow can hope to catch him. Wands of poison are an especially clever way to kill Hotzenplotz. Simply run away from him in coward mode until he croaks. Using wands is a lot less risky than using missiles. Being able to run away in general is good against Hotzenplotz, so try and keep your speed as high as possible. Every Barbarian has Athletics, so even below level 12 you are faster than him while unburdened und non-satiated.
Against Rehetep, you can go for brute force; but undead slaying ammo or the wand of fireballs from Thrundarr are the best way. His mummies are not very dangerous, but have some curaria mancox handy in case you are sickened. His servants can be more problematic. Be prepared for as large a variety of out-of-depth monsters as possible, have means of invisibility so you aren't attacked by all monsters at once and can hope to make a run for it if push comes to shove. Means of Healing - blessed spenseweed for instance - are highly recommended. Not only for Rehetep, but in general.
Be at least resistant, if not immune, to cold before you engage Nonnak. If you're equipped with the ancient mummy wrapping from Rehetep, you should take every opportunity you get to stay away from Nonnak and fire arrows or quarrels at him, he will try in vain to damage you with frost bolts. In melee, he can occasionally get some mean critical hits in. Against a reasonably powerful Barbarian, however, he won't stand a chance.
He is a formidable opponent in melee. If you can teleport behind him and pour holy water on his grave, do it, you'll get the experience anyway. Otherwise, be prepared for a drawn out fight, as he has high defenses and hitpoints. It doesn't hurt to have blessed spenseweed handy. Use undead slaying ammo if you want to spare yourself the trouble.
f) Snake from Beyond
A first taste of the horror that is an orb guardian. Against the Snake from Beyond, you'll come to love your level 12 class power. After fighting against all the servants around the temple, try to make it so that you fight against the Snake alone, with no meddling elementals and demons. This can be achieved by becoming invisible, crossing the water and leaving through the hallway you dug through the temple while the snake is on your tails. High speed is your friend. You can either use it to keep or get a distance between you and the Snake, shooting off your missiles - though it is unlikely that missiles will be very effective unless you have high dexterity or are a hurthling (best if you're a hurthling with high dexterity, of course!). You can also shoot off some wands, though the Snake will probably shrug off most of the bolts. If all this doesn't seem to be able to help much, you'll have to bite the bullet and go into melee. Don't be too low on DV if possible, as the Snake hits hard and poisons and corrupts you. On the other hand, the Snake has a fair share of PV, so what to do? The best thing may be to switch to berserk anyway and either deal tremendous blows or repeat after each hit in such a way that the Snake cannot attack you, preferably with a poisoned weapon since that will work on the snake a bit while you run away a bit. A wand of paralyzation, should you have one, is a tremendous asset. Use it - it can be recharged for the later fights.
g) Skeletal King
Undead slaying ammo. Confusion resistance so he doesn't get you eaten by piranhas before you have a chance to leave the bridge you built. High fire resistance or immunity so the magical barrages he fires don't hurt you. He can be beaten in melee, but he is hard to kill that way and hits pretty hard himself. Slaying ammo simply spares you a lot of trouble.
h) Ancient Chaos Wyrm
The doom of many promising PCs. Barbarians benefit from their high hitpoint counts against him. If only they could cast Frost or Acid Bolt! The biggest danger while fighting the wyrm is his shock attack. It is best to avoid being shock attacked by him as much as possible. There are two ways to do that: Have monsters between you and him so he can't hit you (but that won't help a lot in the long run, since you want to kill him and don't have spells to do it well from afar), or take away his ability to shock attack you. This can be done by blinding him, by confusing him, by paralyzing him or by killing him. The last of these possibilies is the most appealing one, I'm sure, but sadly, it takes some good hits with your best way of dealing damage to achieve it. If you have dragon slaying ammo, it is probably superior to your melee weapon; having Vanquisher or Wyrmlance at this point is best, so try to get crowned beforehand for Vanquisher. Use tremendous berserk blows, as a melee attack of the wyrm isn't as dangerous as the shock attack. To survive while killing the wyrm with your weapon, blindness, confusion and paralyzation are your friends. The first two can be induced by throwing the respective potions at the wyrm, the latter is achieved by using a wand of paralyzation. Also very helpful are wands of poison or potions of poison to dip your weapon in, and wands of cold or acid to deal the finishing blow if the wyrm decides to make a run for it. Also, be resistant to confusion, as you can hardly afford to stagger around aimlessly while the Wyrm shocks you. The key to fighting the Ancient Chaos Wyrm is cleverness. The direct brute force approach probably won't work, but with a bit of magical or alchemical help, you will be able to do it!
i) Cat Lord
You have killed cats? Well, it's hard to avoid that at any time with a Barbarian (as a spellcaster, you have almost no excuse). Fighting against the cat lord is a major pain in the ass. The first step you should take is a tactical retreat: Lure him to either a level above or a level below so you can teleport away in a pinch. Afterwards, consider the following: The cat lord casts invisibility; seeing invisible is essential, equip the ancient mummy wrapping or a ring of see invisible if you don't have the intrinsic yourself. The cat lord also is very fast and hits very hard, depending on how many cats you killed, he can be motherfucking fast and beat the living shit out of you. Luckily, that is the full extent of his abilities (though it's bad enough). Humanoid slaying ammo is effective, and paralyzation from a wand is, again, very useful against him. When he is paralyzed (it will take several tries), try your best to hit as hard as ever possible (berserk, if the cat lord's PV is high and your damage not that high, tremendous - remember that you can theoretically let the game stay where it is and do the math!) - his high DV and hitpoints give him a chance to get moving again and devastate you. Remember: He who fights the Cat Lord without blessed potions of extra or ultra healing in his backpack is naught but an addle-brained fool!
j) Yulgash, the Master Summoner
Once you reach Yulgash, he should be easily killed in melee (especially with a humanoid slaying weapon), or with humanoid slaying ammo. The trouble is reaching him. The Temple itself is full of static electricity that can damage a PC and his equipment. Don't bring anything too valuable into the Temple; scrolls of chaos resistance or the like should be left on another level. As a Barbarian, you should be powerful enough to clear the right outside of the Temple. To-hit is important, as air creatures tend to have no PV but high DV, so berserk mode with non-tremendous blows might be a good idea. On the other hand, the vapor rats, grues and demons have high to-hit themselves and will corrupt you more, so against these, you should use one of the defensive modes (not coward, though). You can clear the whole outside of the temple, but I advise against it - there's no reason to spend too much of your time having equipment destroyed. Once you have cleared the right part of the temple grounds, become invisible (preferably, as it protects you from being attacked by elementals and grues you haven't attacked yourself) and open the Temple itself by searching for a secret door in the middle of the right wall. Lure the elementals out someway, defeat some of them until you can get into melee range to Yulgash or have a clear shot with humanoid slaying ammo. Yulgash will follow you out into the hallway if you wait long enough, but who knows what he will summon until he's there? Once Yulgash is defeated, grab the orb and leave, unless you want to lose some more equipment to the charged air and the elementals' lightning bolts. If you went into the Temple without notable equipment anyway, that's of course an option.
k) Ancient Stone Beast
Question: Do you have some way of penetration? Any weapon with the magical suffix "of penetration" or phase dagger is your best bet against this opponent. It's almost guaranteed to do more damage than any other weapon as it will bypass the 60 PV of the Ancient Stone Beast. No penetration? I think the Stone Beast is a construct, so unlife slaying (like Vanquisher and Purifier possess) should work well, just remember to use tremendous blows since you'll have to overcome the PV. In this case, they will always be worth it. The attacks of the Ancient Stone Beast tend to be relatively harmless, and he doesn't drain stats or anything else remotely remarkable. Just damage, and not too much of it. Again, the more annoying part of fighting against it is fighting against its servants, the elementals and grues. Be careful while digging a hallway towards the temple, as they pass through stone and are capable of surrounding you by blocking your only escape route. Being surrounded by potentially hard-hitting elementals and grues might be an exciting opportunity to prove your battle prowess, but survival is important, too, right? Well then. Against the elementals and grues, the same tactics apply that I have already explained for the Ancient Stone Beast, only that they have 40 instead of 60 PV and elementals don't have corrupting attacks, making them infinitely more pleasant to fight than the grues. If you don't want to fight them all at once, you have to lure some of them to another level since you can't use hallways as choke points like you've done with every tension room until this point. That way, you can at least restrict the number of elementals and grues you have to fight at once, mostly making it a one-on-two fight. With the right weapon and tactic, it will be tedious, but doable work.
l) Nuurag-Vaarn, the Chaos Archmage
God, I hate that guy. Okay, before you even step one foot into the Temple, ask yourself: Are you resistant to death rays? If not, see that you are. Now, are you resistant to confusion? No? Well, don't blame me if you find yourself spending your precious time stumbling about in the corridor while you're being shot at with shock attack after shock attack. Do you have a torch or an amulet of light? Good. Do you have humanoid slaying ammo? No? Be prepared for berserk tremendous blow, having to drink a couple of potions of extra and ultra healing, and stat drains. Awful lots of stat drains. A fucking awful lot of godforsaken stat drains from hell. Even humanoid slaying ammo won't prevent having to resort to melee fighting reliably. This battle, to make it short, is a pain in the ass in any way. The only ones that ever seem to have an easy time are archers with their awesome missile abilities and humanoid slaying ammo. Or cheap spellcasters who use high-Willpower Acid Ball while having a GOD DAMN DOOR prevent Nuurag-Vaarn from attacking them. Sigh. A Barbarian's life is never easy. Well then, if you fulfill the requirements mentioned, you have a good chance. But first, you'll stand before the doorway and fight against hordes after hordes of summoned chaos creatures. If ever possible, try to berserk the annihilators away with tremendous blows - they're worth taking out quickly to prevent your equipment from being destroyed. Sometimes, you can walk into the choke point to reach one of the chaos wizards and take him out. You'll be hit by three monsters instead of one, but chaos wizards must be taken out if you want to get out of that darn place in a reasonable timeframe.
Sooner or later, Nuurag-Vaarn won't be able to resist the temptation anymore and come for you. Once it's between you and him, get some distance (easier said than done, because confusion resistance doesn't seem to work in any way remotely reliable) and shoot off your humanoid slaying ammo. If that didn't do the trick, prepare yourself for some nasty stat drains and melee him, tremendous berserk all the way to take him out as quickly as possible. Since he won't always use his melee attack, the DV loss isn't that bad compared to the faster taking him out. Switch to coward if you need to drink a blessed extra or ultra healing potion (You do have some with you, right?). Don't overestimate yourself - drink that potion if your HP drop below a value you deem unsafe, even if you still have more than 150 HP left. You'll see for yourself how hard his spells will hit. But don't forget to attack, and do it with a vengeance. With any luck and a decent weapon, he should be killed before he can drain too many stats. Even if your stats got drained a fair bit, laugh with glee as you stand above his mangled remains - this was one of the hardest fights you'll ever have to endure.