I did this for another site (sirlin.net) But i thought someone here may be interested. Sadly it seems most of my coding is lost in the process
I'm working on improving it.
Play Darksun shattered for first time or rerun:
I write this guide in order to help improve the experience of playing Darksun: Shattered lands to those that want to try this game for first time. It's an old game, with design flaws and a manual that is worthless for the most part, in addition is somewhat bugged. But I think some of the concepts of this game are top material and I think anyone interested in the design of RPG should experience DS:SL because it does so many things so well, even if it does many things so wrong. The main intention of this guide is to help new players to find a challenge in this game. DS:SL has many too overpowered stuff (as most RPG actually), and my intention is to point it out so players don't use that.
In addition to provide some help in creating chars so the player doesn't end with a useless or boring group.
Also commenting on things from the manual i thing are relevant as the Manual is very long but with a lot of incorrect information.
1.The overpowered things: I will divide this in tiers from most broken stuff to thing that I think are kind of too strong but are not so to the point of making the challenge obsolete:
Tier 1: Playing with this makes the game a right click game.
a) Psionic power: Mass domination
Explanation: Im not a master of d&d nor much less. However I think Dominate monster is a 9th level spell (wizard level 18) and its pretty good. I know some CRPG have the mass dominate spell which is broken no matter how you slice it. But at least you need a level 18 wizard or similar. However most version have a very small AOE or just can only target around 3 targets. Since it's a very high level spell, you are also limited on how many times you can cast them per fight or rest.
Now imagine having mass domination in a level 3 character, and instead of 3 targets you have 5. Yes it's that broken, It's the most broken thing I ever saw in any RPG game, and I really would like to ask the designers what where they thinking. So just don't learn this power.
b) Race: Half-giant
Explanation: Here are the half-giant stats
+4 Str -5 Dex +2 Con -5 Int -3 Wis -3 Chr. I will talk about stats later, but anyone with some experience in d&d will know that those stats cry op. But this just half the story. Half-giants get DOUBLE HP bonus from constitution. And we are talking about a race that get +2 in constitution. Half giants are just the power houses of darksun, and it pains me to say "don't use it" because with my experience with darskun players, half-giant are the favorite race of many. I don't know at this point if its atmosphere reasons, or they just have fun to have someone that can smash everyone to pieces while being unkillabe tanks of destruction. This is just not about fighters. Half giant make the best race for
any class they can pick.
c) Weapon: Dual-wielding.
I find in most RPGS dual-wielding is underpowered. Here is not like that, here dual wielding is the nuts. When you dual wield in darksun you get DOUBLE the attacks. The penalty? What penalty?.
Add to that you can carry a heavy weapon and a normal weapon. It makes every other form of attack look like a joke and most of the game a joke in itself. Don't carry a weapon in each hand.
Tier 2: Quite OP stuff, but if you want to use them, go ahead, it doesn't remove all challenge of the game unlike Tier 1 stuff, it just makes it quite easy.
a) Cleric/druid spell: Hold person.
This is the little brother of Mass domination, but is instead hold person. Holding is not as strong as controlling. But is still makes any human in the game just a joke. In every other CRPG I know this is a higher level spell that can target one creature or monster. Reasonable. Here you can target 4. Which is crazy, and you do double damage to paralyzed humans+less AC.
So, if you use this spell, be prepared to make every humanoid creature a joke. The only reason this isn't tier 1 is because many powerfull enemies in the game are not humanoid.
b) Preserver spell: Haste:
This is the 3rd most broken spell. Making every ally have double attacks and double speed for practically infinite time. Just the way to go ahead and convert every PC in a killing machine. D&D now a days have haste and still a core spell, and it doesn't last as long nor gives DOUBLE attacks, just an extra attack.
c) Psionic power: Dominate:
Ok this is weaker than Mass dominate, still it's dumb. It's not so much for it's effect. Is it's Psionic cost. I think it's bugged. But the cost is only equal to the level of the creature you try to dominate, and there is no maintenance cost. This means the following, If you have a telepath in your team. The only move you will do non stop is Dominate. Because it's cheaper than almost everything, with the most powerful effect. According to the manual this power has a maintenance cost. In practice, it has none. It feels kind of dumb to have a telepath that can't dominate though. But fwiw you still have body control.
Tier 3: Slightly OP stuff that I prefer not to use, but the game is still challenging using them.
I will start saying that if it's your first time playing darksun shattered lands, go ahead and multiclass, the main reason is that I think some party composition are extremly hard (but still possible) to win with. If you multiclass you greatly diminish your chances of that happening.
Multi-class is supposedly balanced around that you get half the XP or a third XP than you should. But since the cap is low that is not a big deal. And having a wizard with the HP and armor restrictions of a fighter (which means none) is just too good. For that reason I don't use multiclassing
(except maybe for the thief class, more on that later). I think Multi-classing is slightly too good in darksun but I know a lot of people love to multi class and i don't think it's so OP as to not use it if you think its fun. Also you can make an exception for the thief and the cleric (because a pure cleric and pure thiefs sucks imo) However I think human dual classing may be ok (not sure).
b) Rest scumming:
When I play I think the best way is to use each rest spot and each heal spot (healing chambers and npc clerics) just one with the exception of prison rest (which I can use once per Arena visit). The problem with this is that you have to keep track of it (I do in a notepad but it can be a hassle to you) which is the only reason i don't recommend it, whoever if you want to add extra challenge to a second or third run. Go ahead.
2. Creating your party:
Ok Now that you know how to make the game more challenging by knowing what things break the game. Let's
go with helping in making a party that can survive.
If you want go ahead and use the prearranged party the game gives you (which is pretty broken btw with
all maxed stats chars). But I think its more fun to create your own party.
But to do that you need to know what each race and class do, more or less. I played many rpg and I think its very frustrating to be mid game to realize your monk is a piece of crap compared to your barbarian, or that you wonder why you have a wizard instead of a sorcerer. (generally making me start all over)
So this is intended so you get what you expect.
How you create a character?
First pick your race, then go ahead and pick your class (or classes if you are gonna multi class), then
roll the dice, set your character Psionics, Set your character elemental sphere (if he is Cleric, druid or ranger) finally Set your character name and you are ready to go (I think you can edit your character name at any point)
First the stats:
Str: Strength define your chances to hit on melee as well to help your melee damage
Dex: Increase your chances to hit at range as well as increase your Dodge AC
Con: Affect the amount of hitpoints you have as well as helps to determine the chances to successfully use most psychokinetic and pyschometabolic abilities without failing, also slightly affect your amount of psy points.
Int: Pretty useless only slightly affect your ammount of psy points. Also it determines the chances of succeed of a very few telepathic abilities.
Wis: Determine the amount of clerical type spells you can cast per level as well as being the major determiner on the amount of psy points you have. It also determines your chance of succed of most of the telephatic abilities. finally wisdom increase saving throws. (if constitution or Dexterity also influece saving throws I have no information)
Chr: Pretty useless, if your leader has high enough chr he will be given a few extra options in conversations at some points in the game.
Classes set what armor and weapons you can use, they also define some special skills, and what magic abilities you can use. Each class have different requirements in XP to level up. Finally Classes determine your minimum STATS. When you roll the dice, if you roll a number less than X, your stat is X instead. If you multi-class the minimal stats is the highest of any of your classes.
Fighter: M.Stats: 17/9/9/9/9/9. Fighters can use any type of armor or weapon. They get extra attacks at later levels. They get a Max of 10 HP per level. They reach 9th level at 250,000 XP.
Gladiator: M.Stats: 17/13/13/13/13/13. Gladiators can use any type of armor or weapon. They get extra attacks at later levels. They get a max of 10 HP per level. They reach 9th level at 300,000 XP. They get an extra AC point when they reach 5th level. Gladiators can't multi-class.
Ranger: M.Stats: 14/14/14/14/17/14. Rangers can use any type of armor or weapon. They get extra attacks at later levels. They get a max of 10 HP per level. They reach 9th level at 300,000 XP. They get level 1 clerical spells when they reach level 8.
Comment: The combat oriented classes are very similar one to another, with very small perks or differences. It really doesn't matter which one you take, as long as you have at least one in your team.
If you decide to go multiclass. Have in mind that you can use all armor and weapons anyway even if you pick restricted classed. Which makes multi-classing into ranger or fighter very powerfull.
Cleric: M.Stats: 9/9/9/9/17/9. Clerics can use any type of armor. They are very restricted on the weapons they can use and it's defined by it's elemental sphere.
Air: No melee weapons, Any ranged weapon.
Earth: Obsidian, metal and wood weapons. (that is basically the most important types of weapons so it's almost everthing)
Fire: Obsidian weapon
Water: Bone or wood weapons.
They get a Max of 8 Hp per level. They reach 9th level at 225,000 XP. Clerics can cast all non-elemental clerical spells up to level 3. They also are able to cast all the clerical spells of the sphere of choosing. Clerics get Turn undead ability. (which is one of the most powerful turn undead I've seen in a D&D game)
Druid: M.Stats: 12/12/12/12/17/12. Druids can use any weapon, but they can't use any armor.They get a Max of 8 Hp per level. They reach 9th level at 225,000 XP. Druids can cast all non elemental clerical spells up to level 5. And the clerical spells of the sphere of choosing.
Comment: Druid is gonna be the way to go. But some races can't be druid. However, being unable to cast non elemental clerical spells at level 4 and 5 is gonna be a bummer for most people (that means no cure critical wounds and the likes, isn't that the reason we pick these kind of chars?). Druids also get slightly better minimal stats.
However druid unable to use armor is a pain. Also while turn undead is extremly powerful, the amount of undead in the game is way less than almost any other D&D I have played. I want to stress that most people will hate the cleric, so if you want a "cleric" go with druid unless you know what you are doing.
Preserver: M.stats: 9/9/9/17/9/9. Preserver can only use quarterstaff, slings, daggers and some magical weapons. They can't use any armor. They get a Max of 6 HP per Level. They reach 9th level at 125,000 XP. Preservers are the only ones that can cast arcane magic.
Psionicist: M.stats: 12/12/12/12/17/12. Psionicist can only use small/light weapons, They can only use leather-type armor. They get a max of 6 HP per level. They reach 9th level at 200,000 XP. Psionicst get psionic powers.
Note: Generally psionicist will focus on Psychometabolism or telepathy. The first one is about autobuffing your char for melee combat, and the second is about ranged attacks. The truth is that the only race worth to focus on Psychometabolism is the thri-kreen. (since can't use armor and have 4 arms to mutate) A psionicst thri-kreen with Psychometabolism is pretty powerfull, but anything else really blows imo. However Telepatic psionics are powerfull regardless of race. However you should use powers of the 3 classes regardless.
A notice is that Psionicist leaders are one of the three only thing that affects dialogs and options in the game (along with Charisma and Thief class).
Thief: M.stats 9/17/9/9/9/9. Can use all weapons. Can only use leather-type armor. They get a max of 6HP per level. They reach 9th level at 110,000 XP. Thiefs can Backstab: If they attack a unit from the opposite direction that it was attacked the last time, he gets bonus to hit and to damage.
Note: Thief along with psionics and Charisma are the only character traits that can affect dialogues and options. While there are traps and whatnot. There are a very few things that can't be solved in non-thief ways. I find thief's pretty weak. But I think many people enjoy the idea of playing a thief. For that reason, even if you decide to not multiclass. You can make an exception for Thiefs.
Humans: Stats: None Classes: all. Special: Humans can't multiclass, instead can Dual class which is a weird long to explain thing and I won't.
Dwarves: Stats: +1 Str +2 con -1 Dex -2 Chr Classes: Cleric, Fighter, Gladiator, Psionicist, Thief.
Elf: Stats: +2 Dex -2 Con +1 Int -1 Wis Classes: All but Druid. Special: The manual says that they can't be revived by clerical spells. But I don't know if its true, never tested it since I never pick elfs.
Half-Elf: +1 Dex -1 Con Classes: All
Half giant: +4 Str -5 Dex +2 Con -5 Int -3 Wis -3 Chr. Classes: Cleric, Fighter, Gladiator, Psionicist, Ranger. Special: Double hit points.
Halfling: -2 Str +2 Dex -1 con +2 Wis -1 Chr. Classes: All but preserver.
Mul: +2 Str +1 Con -1 int -2 Chr Classes: All but preserver and ranger
Thri-Kreen: +2 dex +1 Wis -1 Int -2 Chr Classes: All but Preserver and thief. Special: Can't wear armor.
5 AC natural armor. 4 natural attacks (instead of 1 of other chars). 1 extra Attack that has a chance to paralyze. 15 movement isntead of 12 of other races.
A) There are important bugs that I should know?:
The game has a lot of bugs but few game breaking.
The most important thing is a bug that happens around 5% of the runs, and forbid you to finish the game (!!!).
There are 3 things that rumors say diminish the chances for it to ever happen
1) Sometimes characters say they will leave a place, you should wait for them to leave the map.
2) If you find any note in a body talking about "the army" you should pick it up in your inventory.
3) Having the 1.1 version of the game (you can go to options with TAB and ABOUT to see the version of your game)
Another bug that may be important is in the spiders cave. if you see black spiders save. There are 2 bug related to it. One has to do with a bug (though is recorded in the manual so some may call it a feature) that if you go too far away from an ally. The ally will just dissapear.
1) the first one is after "saving" a group of black spiders, though for purpoose of quest, you save them even if you run like hell and lose them all, it's nice to have them to fight with you. However trying to save EVERYONE is almost impossible since they block each other out and they stop moving for one reason or another. However, try to get 1 or 2 spiders not get lost, is a reasonable goal that you should aim for.
2) In that same cave The most important Spider that may help you is the Prince of spiders. Don't run too far from him or he won't help you.
Finally a bug that may be annoying is the way spells that create objects work. They are unpredictable, yet extremely powerfull. You may end with a wall that doesn't cover anything or fog where everyone will see through. The only solution to that is reload :S.
B) If I have an ally in battle, will he turn on me if I attack him?.
Hell yes. Even if it's a mind controlled one. If you even dare to do slight damage, they will unleash the full wrath on you until you die. So be careful with that. This is specially important in the already named Cave of black spiders since it's very hard to know which ones are on your side and which aren't (There are 2 rules for that. Any Mage spider is enemy, and look what each spider attack. If they attack a spider that is known to be ally or you, they are enemy).
The only exception to this are summons who will not care that you damage them.
C) Is there a quest that if I fail, will make it impossible to finish the game?
No, You can fail at every quest and still get to the ending. There are some quests that trigger the final quest. But that is they trigger the final quest regardless of if you complete the quests or fail. you have to succeed or fail to trigger it though.
However I should notice that while you can theorically finish the game if you fail at every quest, your characters being able to win the proper fights is a different matter. Quests will give XP, but more important will give very powerful items and set some triggers that will make some parts of the games easier (in some cases a lot easier).