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Old July 1, 2008, 10:46   #1
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How to Keep Your Mage Alive

Note: Some of this material may have spoilers (I've tried to limit these cases)... Read at your discretion.

Do you wish to be a master of space and time? Do you long for the ability to anticipate another's actions? All this and more can be available to you as a mage... but, what are the occupational hazards of having these abilities? You have spent so much time sharpening your arcane and mental acuity, that your muscles have atrophied, your reflexes are poor, and you sometimes suffer from the absentminded professor mentality (it's this last one that will get you killed EVERY time).

Create your mage, your race doesn't really matter too much (objectively this should be the case, if you want more of a 'classical mage' go for a more intelligent race like an Elf, or a Gnome).

The principals that will keep any mage alive longer than any other is to be paranoid (if you don't recognize a monster, leave it be), wise (not the stat, you personally need to know when to back out of a fight, survival takes priority over EVERYTHING), knowledgeable (know everything that is happening around you at all times), and prepare for the worst case scenarios... if you're not prepared for the worst case scenario, then don't put yourself into that position in the first place.

There are three divisions of sorcerous aptitude; Beginning Mage (lvl's 1-11), Mid Mage (lvl's 11-30), High Mage (lvl's 30-50). Each of which has it's own strategies for survival, which I will discuss in detail.

Beginning Mage Strategies:
The Beginning Mage is extremely difficult to keep alive, especially trying to make it from clvl 1 to clvl 3. In town, aside from buying armor, it's also wise to buy a few healing potions, and scrolls of phase door. When you feel you're ready, go down into the dungeon and kill your first monster. Be very careful and try to have stairs near where you're fighting anything just in case you need a hasty getaway. Once you get 'detect monsters' you can choose your fights more easily. It's possible to graduate from Beginning Mage to Mid Mage in 15-45 minutes. You will most likely not find artifacts anywhere at the depths or the lvl that you're at. Maybe a few nice little items. As soon as you have the money, buy yourself a long bow and some arrows. Enchant the bow as much as you can (+8,+8) [higher is possible, but it's a pain and not worth it IMHO]. Get as many base resistances as possible w/ resist blindness and resist paralyzation. (It's ok to do this as a Mid Mage too). Always be thinking about how things can go wrong and try to find a way to prevent that from happening. For example: if you are not resistant to blindness at that time, try to take a stave of teleport with you just in case you need it, take some cure critical wounds potions too, these will cure blindess, and confusion (don't remember what they do with poison, look it up with the 'I' command). Always try to use defense over offense.

Important Beginning Mage Spells:
The first spell you want to learn is of course "magic missile", this is necessary because, unless you're a half-troll, you have very little chance of killing anything by hand. The most important spell that you will ever attain in the entire game is 'detect monsters' (at clvl 2 for me usually). This is what you will want to use as an induction into every new dlvl, you can test the waters... see what's out there, avoid who you need to, and to pick which fights you want to fight. Another important spell which should ideally follow 'detect monsters' is 'detect doors/traps'. This will show you where the hidden doors are, and where the traps are (traps WILL kill the Beginning Mage, but the Beginning Mage does not have to walk into them). The next spell that's important to have is 'Phase Door' (this can get you out of hazardous situations but you can't rely on this). If you have spell slots that you really want to fill like 'frost bolt' go ahead. Get 'teleport self' once you have the chance.

Mid Mage Strategies:

Mid Mage... ahh... this is the most dangerous part of the game, they take the longest to bring out of infancy, and there is much to be done before stat-gain. At lvl 11 it's possible for the mage to use the 'identify' spell. This is great! But it's way too easy to die because you're not paying any attention to your spell points. At this point you realize that the game has only been babying you up to this point and will get nastier. For instance, orcs and large groups of very nasty monsters will try to swarm you and kill you (they will succeed if you aren't wise about the fights you choose to fight). I usually say that once I go below 30% of my Max SP or once I go below 50% of my Max HP I will bail out of a fight. Hounds should mostly be avoided at all costs (Hounds are the MOST dangerous creature in the game, IMO). It's possible to get some nice items at this point. You want to try and complete your equipment kit with (good) items that will boost your armor class. After you've gotten all the resistances you need (the traditional resistance depth recommendations are a pretty good guideline). It should be ok to proceed down to dlvl 30. I caution you, be *very* careful down here, this area will test your wisdom and your judgement. There are many goodies to be found here and it may not necessarily be wise to pursue them. Be paranoid and you'll stay alive. Be 'brave' and take your chances and you will die, always have at least 3 different fail-safes to keep yourself alive. (At this point you'll know what kinds of situations are hairy and which ones aren't).

Important Mid Mage Spells:
'Teleport Other' is one of the nicest spells that you will come across. Is Beorn, the ShapeChanger in your way? Get him out of your way with this spell. Make sure you're fast enough of course. There are still a few monsters that are in the school of "Don't Mess With (If You Value Your Life)" (DMW). Be careful and make sure that the monster you're dealing with isn't too fast for you. The other notable spell is 'Haste Self', this will even the odds when you're fighting most monsters. Still, be cautious.

High Mage Strategies/Recommended Spells:

You have now made it to lvl 30 with a mage (a rare feat if I understand correctly). You have a few artifacts (I found Calris and Ringil by this time believe it or not [I was lucky]). You're extremely powerful, but Monsters are now probably resistant to most spells that can be thrown at them... a very dangerous position for someone who is used to turning dissidents into ineffectual lumps of carbon. This is when it's time to break away from the stereotypical Mage and to slowly realize that all this training up till now has hardened your once atrophied muscles and surviving Mid Mage has made your attention to important details sharp... but you still have a long way to go ambitious apprentice . Monsters are no longer of the garden variety, groups don't intimidate you much anymore, same tactics, right? There is a new breed now. These will summon many more *dangerous* monsters for aid, they will also cast spells that can bring you within an inch of your life. In such situations it is especially important to pick your fights... Don't try to wipe out everything in a level, this is a good way to get yourself de-atomized (what do you think mana-storms/bolts do?). Until you get the book Resistances and Scarabtarices, don't even attempt to fight anything that looks big and elemental in nature. After you do get this book, don't attempt to fight anything that looks big and elemental in nature unless you are absolutely sure that you have your resistances and speed cast. (Be cautious, when you're in the middle of a fight take some time to cast your resistances again, just to be sure). You may actually be doing more dmg on the monsters by firing arrows/hitting them with your melee weapon than you would using your magic (/w Ringil I was). There is an extremely dangerous Angel of Death (Azriel) who will breathe on you and instantaneously cause a necrotic plague (known as nether) to infest your skin and make you dead, dead, dead. (Without nether Resist, he's not just DMW, he's DEFW [don't even **** with]). Come to think of it, there are many cases like this [Ancalagon, Qlzzluudkp, Atlas, Kronos... I can go on]. Until you have all your resistances and all of you're books, don't mess with these (or, indeed, any unique monster at this point).

Btw, the reason why I chose clvl 30 to be a good breaking point is the spell 'Detect Enchantment'. It's available in the fourth book you can buy at the stores. This can be a great way to find resources and items. Be on the lookout for magical items with strange 'base' values. Once you have all resistances (give or take a few), and all books, and all spells... it will be time to break out the *healing* potions, and life potions, and start killing the DEFWs... *EXTREMELY* carefully. Then, you should have enough background and necessities that the rest of the game should be ok.

Always be careful, Always know what's around you, Don't despair... and have fun! Space and time will bend to your command, monsters will disappear on your whim, and the god of the Dark and his servant will fall.

Last Note: Any criticisms/comments/questions to my strategies are welcome... this is the first time I've written something like this. I would like to know what I left out.
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Old July 1, 2008, 17:24   #2
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This is a great guide! I'm making a mage and this is all useful information. Any advice on "The Final Chapters"? i.e. the lord of darkness and/or Saruman?
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Old July 1, 2008, 19:44   #3
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Kill them, it's that easy
If you can convincingly pretend you're crazy, you probably are.
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Old July 1, 2008, 20:54   #4
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It's so easy that I've never been able to do it in 10 years
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Old July 1, 2008, 22:17   #5
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Yeah, I always fail at the most easy tasks. ^.^
If you can convincingly pretend you're crazy, you probably are.
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Old July 18, 2008, 21:24   #6
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I should have taken the advice on this thread more seriously. I had a L33 mage pwnt by Adunaphel the Quiet at DL45. This despite the fact that I had Mordy's Escapes and could have protected myself in all sorts of ways (teleport level anyone?).

More than anything else, playing a mage well requires endless amounts of patience; in my case, the patience to play it safe until I found better weapons. I found Rohirrim armor and an elvish shield with nether resist fairly early, and later got Thranduil from a particularly scary fight. But, I never did find better weapon besides my trusty rapier of Westernesse and a Longbow with +17 damage. I had to kill everything with fire and acid bolts, and later when I got Raal's tome, I experimented with some of the ball spells.

I would teleport things away when I felt too threatened, but eventually I started encountering things that bounced right back from a long distance and even floated through walls (Adunaphel, for example), and I could never rest for long. That was when I should have started leaving levels at hair-trigger notice rather than stay and fight.

I've been playing off and on for seven years now, have yet to post a winner, and I think I'm going to try to quit the bug for as long as I can.

Best of luck,y'all.
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Old July 19, 2008, 03:16   #7
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Aren't you supposed to run away? Like if your hitpoints drop below 60%, or you're running low on scrolls, or you're on a level with hounds, or you've taken more then 36 steps on the same level? I think I read that somewhere.
But more seriously, patience is the bane of all of my characters.
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Old July 20, 2008, 01:20   #8
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What do you do about recalling? I always find I have a problem recalling, and then ending up in a dangerous area with no stairs nearby. I usually try to teleport then, but that's also extremely risky. My last mage teleported away from some ghouls only to be killed in a room full of gravity hounds.
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Old July 27, 2008, 20:14   #9
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Death to dangerous recall is correllated highly with the number of recalls in the game. That said, this doesn't mean you have to recall only very rarely. There is another option: dive faster.

Missing from the initial post is that the best (funnest?) way to preserve a beginning mage is to dive
like a maniac. All it takes is a single dark-elf kill to move you up to cl 5, etc. So use that Detect Monster, and scum for yummy targets.

The same holds for mid-mage. Go deep, and look for Young Dragons. A cl 12 mage with Cold Bolt can easily soften up a YRD, then finish him off with archery & magic missile. If you don't have RFire, buy the potion in the Alchemist. Playing quickband this way is a blast, although most mages unfortunately just don't have enough HP or offensive power to take on Saruman.

Finally: use magic devices. You won't get better offence for a very long time.
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Old August 2, 2008, 11:31   #10
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I've played two kinds of mages: human, and high-elf.

I first played high-elf, then tried human and really liked the fast leveling, but trying to find a source of see invisible every game got frustrating, so I switched back to high-elf. These instructions are for high-elf. For human or other races that don't start with see invisible, you'll want to get a stack of ?Detect Invisible early, and get a -Detect Invisible ASAP.

These instructions assume you know basic things, like staying away from Umber Hulks, Hummerhorns, and anything that can paralyze before you find something with free action.

Here's how you play a high-elf mage, buying stats, with 3.0.9b:

17 STR
17 INT
10 WIS
10 DEX
13 CON
10 CHR


(No bow or arrows, just magic missile everything)

Find a $ or a potion/scroll.

Take the first set of stairs you find. If it's an up stair, skip the next line.

Get to CL 3 for detect traps/doors/stairs, then use it to get back to town.

Buy Conjurings and Tricks, scumming if necessary.

Dive to DL 8-10, leveling to CL 6-8 on the way, killing individual monsters and avoiding Smeagol.

Look for groups of snagas, cave orcs, and hill orcs, killing them one at a time, by waking one at a time. Monsters with the symbol p (novice priests/paladins/rogues, etc.) are worth much less XP and are best avoided. Continue diving to around DL 13, trying to find hill orcs and wolves for XP.

Once you're around CL 11, use your ?WoR and scum the magic shop for Incantations and Illusions. Selling your identified wands/staves/rings should give you enough cash for at least 2 more ?WoR. If you have the money, you should get 5 ?WoR, 10 !CSW, 10 Magic Mapping, and -Object Location.

Back in the dungeon, dive toward DL30, picking off any Wolves, White Wolves, Earth Hounds, and Air Hounds you see, all of which give excellent XP and can be killed with impunity by standing in a corridor right outside a crowded room and shooting into areas you can't see, by alternating between Detect Monsters and Magic Missile. I usually avoid orcs at this point, since they can be a pain in the ass, but Uruks do give decent XP also at around 50 XP a pop. Earth Hounds are the best, they give about 250 a kill, and are fairly easy and safe. Avoid any monsters that are a pain to deal with, or that don't give good XP. I avoid most uniques, but Wormtongue's drop can be useful once you're high enough CL to kill him. Take any good weapons you find back to town and sell them for cash to buy -Enlightenment, -Teleportation, !CCW, !RLL, and Sorcery and Evocations. My completed diving kit looks like this:

-Object Location
first four books, one copy each
Lantern and oil, or torches

I don't bother with ?Phase Door or ?Teleport, since -Teleport works just fine. Do keep any ?Teleport Level you find though--they're a useful escape.

Hover around DL 30-35, using -Object Detection to find stat potions, rods of fire bolts, and the high books. You really want a Defender weapon, !INT, !CON, and Mordenkainen's Escapes. Once you've got those, kill mature dragons and the stronger trolls for XP, leveling you to CL 30, then use Create Stairs to dive straight to DL 98.

Avoid everything.

Be paranoid.

Cast Teleport Other at anything that looks more dangerous than a Jackal.

Find Kelek's Grimoire of Power, and Genocide (yes, I'm old-school) anything that gives you a problem. Clear vaults with Word of Destruction, which will leave artifacts intact, then teleport away the uniques that are left behind.

Once you've got nether resistance, you can kill nether hounds for XP.

Complete your kit. Kill Sauron. Kill Morgoth. Find the One Ring. Then, give takkaria a hand making the game harder.
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