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This article was written by the god Dentin, and posted on Oct 06, 2008.
It was last updated by Shadowfax on May 24, 2014.

For other articles on equipment, see our article on Equipment Class and Alignment Restrictions and Boa's guide to Building an Effective Mana Regen Set.

Equipment: It's All About Optimization

One of the major factors that makes one character better than another is equipment. One place where you'll see a tremendous difference is in optimized sets - equipment sets optimized for a particular purpose. This article will attempt to describe a few of the main categories of equipment sets, and what to look for in the various set types.

Keep in mind that what makes an equipment set good is how optimized it is to the goal that the character wants to achieve; for example, a character who wants to cast a lot of spells would do well to wear equipment with cast_level, cast_ability, mana, wisdom and intelligence. It would be unwise for a caster to wear equipment specialized for fighting.

The keyword here is optimization. The basic idea is that you want to be prepared for a specific problem rather than being prepared for everything.

This article is written with a bias toward the game Alter Aeon, but the tips and techniques described are applicable to many RPGs, from the venerable Diablo 2 to the more modern World of Warcraft. The things listed here are intended to be guidelines and give new players an idea of what to look for; nothing written here should be considered set in stone. There are many exceptions or changes which may work better for your particular character or game.

And now, on to the sets!

Spellcasting Sets

Spellcasting sets are typically very similar for all caster classes. The basic requirements of a casting set are intelligence, wisdom, and cast level. Most higher level spells have intelligence and wisdom requirements that can only be reliably met using boosting equipment; for this reason, most casting sets max out the int and wisdom of the wearer.

Cast level is used to raise the effective cast level of the user. In some cases of extremely optimized casting sets, players can cast 16 (or more) levels above their real level.

Other less frequently used effects improve cast ability, mana, hitpoints, and saving spell (or other protective equipment.) Cast ability improves your ability to cast any particular spell, and decreases the chance of failure. Mana can assist in casting very powerful spells such as haven, which can drain even the highest level casters.

Hitpoints, saving spell, and other protective equipment is used less frequently, but has a very solid place: it helps protect against failure. In the case of enchanters and summoners, protective equipment can mean the difference between life and death when failure happens. Many a mage has been killed by losing control when dealing with heavily enchanted weapons or armor.

Tanking (Armor) Sets

For tanking, the goal is to wear the most powerful protective equipment possible. Because there are many different ways to protect yourself, there are naturally several different subtypes of tanking sets. The three most common types of tank sets are armor class (or AC tank), saving throw, and hit point.

For an Armor Class tank, the goal is to get the highest AC possible. The high level standard for a good AC tank starts at about 400 AC; some specialized tanks that have worked for a long time can get an AC of more than 500! The ac tank is used against mobs that hit hard and fast. Since the basic idea for the tank is to soak up all the damage and not worry about hitroll and damroll, most tanks are backed up by spellcasters and hitters.

The Saving Throw tank is a specialty and is used against mobs that cast a lot of damaging spells. The set tries to get a decent amount of negative save spell (high level standard is about 70% save) combined with a reasonable AC of around 300. Specialty saving throw equipment sets may confer more protection against dragon breath, special attacks, or elemental damage.

The hit point/parry tank is fairly rare, as it is typically only used against mobs that hit so hard that AC does not matter. The goal of this set is to get as many hit points as possible, while simultaneously boosting the dodge and parry fighting skills. Hitpoints are used to keep the tank alive long enough for healers to stay active, while dodge and parry help defend and reduce the number of blows landed. This set is rarely used, as there are few mobs against which it is useful.

Healing and Regeneration Sets

Nearly all players have a healing or regeneration set. This kind of equipment allows your character to recover from battle or exploration as quickly as possible. The intent is to reduce downtime and get you back into the action.

Typically, this type of equipment set consists of the obvious mana/hitpoints/movement regeneration items. Many players also wear hitpoint and mana boosting equipment, so that they have excess mana when wearing regen equipment; this allows them to heal fully, cast protective spells, then change out of regen equipment while still having full mana.

Age is also a major factor in regeneration. Older characters tend to heal much more slowly, while younger characters regenerate mana at a much slower rate. Typically, mages are very old and try to stay in the optimal age range of 150 to 200 years old. For fighters, the optimal age is around 30 years old. Combinations of real age and age modifying equipment are usually used to get into the best age range for your character.

Grouped Hitter (Combat) Sets

The hitter set is a pure fighting and damage set, without any real regard for anything else. Armor, spellcasting, even healing is sacrificed in the name of pure combat power. This type of set is very effective when used in a well-run group.

Typically the hitter set focuses on hitroll, damroll, and attack speed. Some of the more skill based fighters also go with large reserves of movement, to allow many warrior skills to be used and allow for long-duration berserking streaks. Movement regeneration is also fairly popular.
Even within this relatively restricted set of effects, there are two major types of hitter sets. Hitroll is used to cut through armor, while damroll forms the maximum damage that can be done when armor is not present. For low level mobs that pose little threat or are poorly armored, there is a heavy emphasis on damroll. For higher level monsters or monsters with abnormally tough armor, an emphasis may be placed on hitroll. Some hitters carry pieces for both of these types of sets.

Downsides of this set are that you're very dependent on others, the tank in particular, for protection. Pure hitters generally wear very little protection against anything, so spells or even the stray hit before the tank can rescue pose a real threat to hitters. Some hitters sacrifice a small amount of combat power for protection, just in case things go badly. This is especially common in groups with known poor leaders or unknown leaders.

Solo Player Sets

A solo set is what you wear when you go out adventuring by yourself, without having others to support you or back you up. But since there are different things to do by yourself, there are a few natural types of solo sets. Here, we'll describe the Solo Experience set and the Exploration set.

The Solo Experience set is optimized for melee combat. This normally means a reasonably good armor class, with high hitroll and damroll and a good weapon. The point of this set is to allow as many experience mobs to be killed, as quickly as possible, before needing to rest or sleep.

The Solo Exploration set is intended to get you into and out of unknown areas with a minimum amount of risk. More specifically, exploration sets may emphasize protection, covert operation, or even just regeneration and healing. Good things to look for in an exploration set include armor class, improved sneak and hide, mana regeneration, and movement regeneration.

Improving your sneak and hide skills makes you much less likely to be seen in the event that you run across something truly nasty. Mana regeneration can help you keep the more powerful protective spells such as Sanctuary active. Movement regeneration is always useful, as you can't explore easily without movement.

A Last Word

It goes without saying that there are many more different types of equipment than what we've just listed. The most important thing to remember is to optimize your equipment sets for your character, and for what you want to do with it. No one piece of equipment is best for all purposes.

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