Sacred:Tharkane's guide to The Dwarven Trader...Part 1

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Originally posted at DarkMatters for review and discussion.

The Dwarven Trader

I just couldn't wait until my own computer comes online again to share this build on the forum with other players. I'll add screen shots to this thread once I get my own internet connection again. Until then, I can explain the mechanics of this Dwarf, how to do your own, and why he has become so powerful.

Trading: a Path to Power

For anyone not familiar with how Trading actually works, I will explain it here so a good grasp of the possibilities will be within easy reach.

The Trading skill reduces the prices of goods sold by a Merchant, increases the price of goods you sell to a Merchant from your own inventory, and most importantly of all, increases the quality of goods sold by a Merchant.

I emphasized the latter benefit of the Trading skill since this is the great boon. If you've played Sacred for a while, then you know that obtaining gold is generally never a problem. The Charisma statistic affects prices at Merchants, independent of the Trading skill. In my estimation, gold and pricing alone is not reason enough to become a Trader.

Until the Dwarf came along, my only experience with the Trading skill was through one of my Battle Mage characters. Through this experience, I learned the real challenge of the Trading skill, and why it is so unpopular amongst many players: in order for the really good items to consistently appear at the Merchants, you must keep Trading at or above your present character level. That poses a problem for most of the characters, particularly melee warriors like the Gladiator, the Dark Elf, and, if you don't know any better (not yet, anyway), the Dwarf. Warriors need to spend their efforts on the skills that make them do well in combat. A 30th level character must somehow catch the Trading skill up to make it worth the effort.

The Dwarven Trader shines

Most characters can't select the Trading skill until they reach the more advanced levels. This is where the Dwarven Trader stands out above the rest. With Underworld, you can make it possible to select a character's starting skills yourself, instead of being forced to take what the default the game gives you. A Dwarf can take Trading at 1st level...right off the bat, Trading is at your current level! When you reach second level, viola! Add that skill point to Trading, and it's at your current level. Keep this going, and the investment will begin to pay off in spades.

General note: Add one skill point to the Trading skill each time you level up. Keep doing this until you start finding items with + to all skills or better yet, + to the Trading skill. These will start showing up at Merchants!

1st - 3rd Levels

Your goal during these tender levels is to amass as much gold as possible. Therefore, swallow your pride and open every barrel, chest, bookstand and crate you come across. If they don't yield gold, they'll give up items. Even better: the items are always worth more in actual gold than the gold the containers throw out. Although you would prefer items at this point, no matter - take what you can get.

You might be concerned that by selecting Trading as a starting skill, you will be weaker than if you had picked some other combat-oriented skill. While this is true in principle, fear not: Weapon Lore gives you the edge on damage you will need in combat, and during the first 5 levels of experience, it doesn't make much of a difference as you will see. The only place where this might not be true is in closed multiplayer hardcore|. You need to be careful what server you join, especially if a number of higher-level characters are present on the server. This is your only real limitation during levels 1 - 6. However, as I have experienced, this is true concerning any low-level starting character in closed multiplayer, regardless of what skills they start out with. To illustrate: my newbie hardcore Dark Elf was waltzing along and was attacked by three wolves 4 levels higher than him. I managed to survive that, but did so using some fancy manuevering (read = running!) and potion gulping. That, and lots of Multi-Hits.

My advice for your brand-new Dwarven Trader: sell your hammer, and equip and use combat gauntlets. He starts out with the Assault CA as a default, so use it to your advantage. Using the Assault CA, your Dwarf turns into a speed boxer! Try it yourself and see. You can cut through two or three wolves surrounding you using the Assault combat move. Punch the hell out of everything and prevail.

Stop at both Merchants in Bellevue while you do the initial quests. Stop by both and sell items from your inventory. At the same time, look to buy some high-quality armor to start you off on the right foot. This will be easy. Believe it or not, you can find some very sweet equipment in Bronze at level three! Look for armor that has a numerical defense rating, and some slots. Also, you will notice armor pieces, and even weapons, that feature the Regeneration Special Move (RSM) bonus. Buy these if you have the gold!!! Try to buy as much equipment as you can without going broke. Keep at least 2000 gold in reserve in your inventory as savings. This will help later on. 3rd level skill pick: Concentration or Constitution. I suggest Concentration since at the lower levels, health is usually not an issue (it will be later on, but not right now). Even without Constitution, your Dwarf is pretty stout in the beginning.

4th - 6th levels

By now, your Dwarf should be wearing body armor, a belt, gauntlets, a helmet, hopefully some boots, and wearing at least three rings and one amulet. Kill everything you are able to attack. Pick up all the gold that drops from enemies and every single item that drops. Yes, that means every Annihilating Dagger of the Menial. Finish the Blacksmith quest in Bellevue and have him place either CA runes or Blacksmith arts into the equipment slots. I suggest using the following method:

  • At least one Vampiress CA rune that features life leech. Better if you have two or more. Place these in your armor, NOT in your weapons. You might need to switch what weapon you're using, and it's likely you won't have enough Vampiress CA runes to cover everything. By putting these in your armor, you are always covered by life leech no matter what weapon you are using.
  • Use the Blacksmith arts in slots as well. During the early levels, you generally won't find amulets or rings that can top the benefits the Blacksmith arts offer. Place the attack art into weapons, and the defense art into armor pieces. If you have four-slotted armor, put two defense arts, one attack art, and a Vampiress CA rune with life leech in.

What weapons to use: I suggest sticking with axes after you pass level 3. If you find yourself attached to combat gauntlets, you can keep using them, but many of the unique combat gauntlets in the game are still Gladiator-only weapons. Sad but true. I like axes for the Dwarf because out of all the weapons he can use, he swings those the fastest. He is deadly with a two-handed axe in his hands, every bit as good as a Gladiator and even faster with it! Hoo-ah.

6th level skill pick: If you want a Weapon skill, pick it now. The best choice in my opinion is Axe Lore, followed by Sword Lore. If you want your Trader to be a gun Dwarf, take Ranged Combat. The Dwarf is competent with swords, though not as good with them as the Gladiator is. If you're going to do swords with your Dwarf, I suggest sticking to two-handed swords. Damage, damage, damage. That's what you want. If you didn't take Concentration at 3rd level, take it now. Even though you will eventually be buying items from the Merchants with the RSM modifier, those are kind of rare during the early levels. The way I see it, anything that helps reduce CA regen times is worth having.

7th - 12th levels

By now, you'll be killing lots of goblins between Silver Creek and Porto Vallum. Use that area as a "grind" and collect all the items that drop. Use the little town at the half-way point as your base to sell items (always check a Merchant's inventory for good stuff), and use the Combo Master there to eat some runes to level up the CAs you will be using. If you find something really nice, run back to Bellevue and have the Blacksmith there take care of it. By now, you will start finding rings and amulets worthy of adding to your slotted armor and weapons. Even so, keep using Vampiress life leech| runes unless you manage to find something else that gives you life leech.

Best tactics to handle the mobs of Gobbies: Use a two-handed axe and crush the crowds using Vehemence. Play golf and knock the lead goblin rushing at you back into the other goblins behind him using Recoil. That stuns the whole crowd and makes killing 'em all easier. Use Heavy Blow on the Shaman bosses to wipe them out efficiently. If you're game, let them run around for a while spawning Goblin Warriors for you to kill. Goblin Shamans can be good friends if you let them do their thing.

Your biggest problem will be those pesky Goblin Champions with bows. Take them out first by using Heavy Blow on them. If one of them happens to be conveniently close to a crowd, use Vehemence instead. The goal here is to kill as many goblins as you can with one hit. If you have developed one of your Cannon CAs, you can blast them with Cannon Blast or Mortar Grenade.

I suggest running around between Silver Creek and Porto Vallum until you're close to 12th level. This will allow you time to rack up the gold, hopefully find some set pieces, and perfect your build enough to start haunting the Khorad-Nur desert and taking on the Orc bosses and their Orc Warrior stooges. 12th level skill pick: Parry (if you're using weapon + shield, or using two-handed axes some of the time and one-handed weapon + shield at other times). You'll want the added defense because the Orc archers of the desert can put a hurting on you. By doing this you are also building a good defense that will help you in later levels, in Gold and beyond. If you're a hardcore two-handed axe Dwarf, I salute you and suggest that you pick Armor at this level. You'll need the resistance boost to handle the punishment you will soon be receiving. No big deal, you can take it. You will certainly be dishing out much, much more than you'll be receiving!

CA advice: You should be using War Cry by now to boost up your attack and defense. If you're a seasoned Gladiator player, no need to explain how close this CA is to Heroic Courage. A Glad without HC is like a fish out of water.

Next post in the thread: 12th level and beyond.