Beginner's Guide to Playing an Archer
From Asheron's Call Community Wiki
Why Play an Archer
Note: There are no true classes in Asheron's Call. However, characters generally stick to one form of attack: close-combat (Warrior/Melee), archery (Archer/Missile), or offensive magic (mage).
Archers are usually considered intermediate in difficulty, with warriors being easier and mages being harder. Archers combine some of the simplicity of melee combat with some of the advantages of magic combat. Missile combat is similar to melee combat, with available options being aiming high, medium, or low, with a slider bar that controls your speed vs your accuracy. Like warriors, archers require basic supplies like potions and healing kits to survive. In addition, they require ammunition and in most cases the raw materials to create more. Archers have long range, but can also fight just as effectively in close combat. In addition, they have access to all 7 damage types. At lower levels especially, an archer can get by with a single bow, crossbow, or atlatl and simply changing their ammo to the appropriate damage type, where a warrior would have to lug around several different weapons for each element of damage they want to be able to inflict.
- Archers do not get to use shields during combat, with the exception of certain thrown weapons like spikes. This means that when engaged in close combat, an archer will take much more physical damage than a warrior.
- Archers (as well as warriors) cannot deal damage to multiple targets. Only mages have this ability.
- Ammunition is heavy. This can be remedied by taking the fletching skill, which is pretty much an essential skill for archers.
Choosing a Weapon Mastery
There are three main types of missile weapon and they all share the Missile Weapons skill. You will need to choose which weapon type to master in. Here is a brief summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Bows are generally considered the best of the missile weapons. Though not as damaging as a crossbow, they are faster and lighter. Quest bows are numerous, appear at all levels of play, and usually have decent capabilities.
Crossbows are generally considered the second best of the missile weapons. Crossbow ammo - quarrels - are higher damage than their bow counterparts - arrows. Crossbows also have higher damage modifiers, making crossbows deadlier than bows in terms of the damage a single shot can deal. However, crossbows are also slower, and this slower time between shots lowers the crossbow's overall damage over time. Compared to bows, there are relatively few quest crossbows.
Thrown Weapons are generally considered the worst of the missile weapons. This is partly due to Thrown Weapons (TW) dependence on Strength. While the formula for the Missile Weapons skill does not involve Strength, the range of your weapons and damage do. Another reason is that for many years, TW did not have atlatls and darts - the skill's version of bows and arrows or crossbows and quarrels. It instead only had weak thrown weapons like javelins, throwing axes, and so on. However, not all is bad with thrown Weapons. Atlatls and their darts are similar in damage to crossbows, but significantly lighter in burden. The combination of Spikes and a shield can be very strong at low levels. And while the skill is somewhat lacking in quest weapons, it does have a few decent ones, such as a high level Olthoi Slayer weapon (something Bow and Crossbow lack) and the Monouga Slayer weapon - the only skill with this slayer property. Thrown Weapons also have good synergy with Alchemical Throwing Phials.
Strength is not very important for the actual Bow and Crossbow skills, since they are based solely on Coordination. Thrown Weapons however do require Strength, even though the skill formula does not. Strength also increases the amount of burden units (weight) you can carry, which is important to all three missile skills, since they require lots of ammo, along with other basic supplies like armor and potions. For a beginner archer, investing some points into strength may not be a bad idea - the attribute points can always be reallocated later via the Attribute and Skill Redistribution quest.
Endurance is important in that your health, stamina, and innate resistances are based off of it. Endurance is also the primary attribute for figuring your Natural Resistances. However, the only skill that uses endurance as part of its formula is Armor Tinkering, which is considered an unimportant skill to have on main characters.
Coordination is the most important attribute to archers, since all of the missile weapons' formulas are Coordination / 2. In addition, melee defense, missile defense, and a wide range of secondary skills like fletching, healing and cooking are based off of Coordination.
Quickness is an important attribute for archers. Melee and missile defense are based off of it, along with run. So higher quickness will increase your ability to evade and if needed escape. And since archers cannot use shields, the ability to completely evade melee attacks is crucial to survival in close combat situations. If you choose to play a character with lower magic usage, melee and missile defense are useful beyond their evading - both skills are used as activation requirements for built-in armor enchantments, and as wield requirements for the powerful Covenant Armor.
Focus is a fairly important attribute for archers. Magic defense is based on focus and self, so higher focus will increase your resistance ability. If you are magic heavy, all the magic skills are based off of focus and self, so higher focus will allow you to more effectively weaken enemies with magic, and it will give you access to self-buffing faster than someone with low focus. If you are magic light, focus is still important, because Arcane Lore and Alchemy, two important skills for a low magic user, are based off of focus. In addition, if you wish to craft your own arrows, and do so with ease at lower levels, Focus is helpful since both Alchemy and Fletching are based off it.
Self is not very important for archers, since it is only useful for the magic skills and magic defense. However, it never hurts to be a stronger magic user and be more resistant to magic attacks. And since archers have more flexibility in selecting their attributes than warriors, investing some in Self is not a terrible decision.
Dereth is world full of magic. The benefits of magic use are so great that nearly everyone has at least one school of magic, and most have three. There are however alternatives to magic that will grant you the same or similar benefits.
Playing with 3 Schools is the easiest way to go. With Life, Creature, and Item enchantment trained your character has full access to Self and Other buffs. If you specialize one of the skills you will have a much easier time casting debuffs on your enemies. With all three schools, acquiring spells is fairly simple - you can buy level 1-6 spells at scroll vendors in towns, and 7s are found as treasure on creatures. You also have the advantage of not depending on equipment for your standard buffs - this makes it much easier to create a suit of armor and equipments with cantrips, or stacking buffs. But having all three schools has disadvantages. First, it is a huge skill credit investment. Second, you will lose much of your carrying capacity, with either 3 side packs taken up by Foci or varying space taken up by the old complex component system. Third, if you depend on casting all your buffs, these can be removed by dispelling traps and creatures. And last, at lower levels before your skill is high or you have acquired special augments, if you die, your buffs are removed and you have to recast them. You also gain a vitae penalty when you die, temporarily reducing your skills, which could sometimes knock you down a tier in spell levels.
Playing without Creature Magic is the next easiest. You can cover your skill and attributes buffs fairly easily with built-in enchantments on equipment and certain consumables such as Beers. The only thing you lack is the ability to buff other players' or debuff creatures' attributes and abilities. However debuffing creatures skills and attributes are not nearly as important as the life magic defuffs. There are disadvantages. It can be quite difficult to get together a nice suit of armor and jewelry that covers all the creature enchantment buffs you need, and there is the additional challenge of creating a suit that covers both standard buffs and cantrips.
Playing without Life Magic is difficult but can be done. Without life magic, you lack the ability to buff others or debuff creatures. You can cover your life buffs in a similar fashion to creature enchantment, but be aware that life protections only come on clothing and jewelry. Debuffing with life is critical, and luckily there are several options that have the same or similar effects. First, there are weapon imbues: Physical and Elemental Rending imbues mimic the effects of life vulnerabilities, and the Armor Rending effect is similar to an imperil. Second, there are Runed Weapons. The level 100+ and 120+ versions of these have a special cast on strike ability that allows them to sometimes cast the Imperil spell on your target. Third, there are Alchemical Throwing Phials, also known as grenades. These grenades are thrown weapons that cast on strike the vulnerability and imperil spells. They do not require thrown weapons skill to use but they do require high alchemy skill to wield. The restoration abilities can be covered with various special quest orbs, healing skill, and simply potions.
Playing with only Item Magic is a difficult task, but rewarding. You merely have to combine the methods above for playing without creature and life magic. But this creates its own problem - you must rely on your armor, jewelry, and clothing for all of your creature and life magic buffs and any cantrips you need as well. This makes creating a fully functional suit a long process. However, once you have a suit, you have some distinct advantages over your casting friends. Your buffs can never be dispelled, and will never disappear when you die - unless you lose a piece of your equipment upon death (a rare occurence). The other advantage is that instead of spending 20 credits just to train creature and life magic, you only need 10 credits to train Arcane Lore and Alchemy, and 18 credits to specialize them both. This allows you to pick up many secondary skills like lockpicking and cooking.
Playing with no magic at all is a very difficult role to play. You have the same advantages and disadvantages as playing with only item in terms of buffing. But without Item Enchantment, everything is harder. Since you have no item enchantment, you cannot buff your own armor. This means in order to have decent physical protection, you must use Covenant Armor, or its loot tier 7 varient Olthoi Armor. That makes completing a working suit of armor very time consuming. In addition, you cannot buff your own weapons. This means you have to rely on self buffing weapons, a rare occurrence in loot, but a somewhat common trait in quest weapons. You also lack the ability to use Portal Magic, a branch of item enchantment. This makes travel difficult - you must rely on numerous portal summoning gems and your own knowledge of the portal network system. Playing with no magic is only recommended for experienced players.