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(Note - this article is very specific to Alter Aeon, and was originally posted by Caesar on March 10, 2001 at this site, reproduced here with updates for current Alter Aeon game mechanics.
It was last updated Shadowfax on May 23, 2014.

Spellcasting for Newbies - The Universal Spells

Unless you use spells, your ability to gather experience will dwindle exponentially as you continue to level. If you are purposefully sacrificing the universal spells - and have methods to succeed without them - then all is well. For the rest of us who would like supplemental help to increase experience efficiency there is an answer: pay attention to the universal spells, no matter which class you are specializing in.

The universal spells are those that benefit everyone, usually because they tend to make experience gathering more efficient. The universal spells are: 'armor, 'shield', 'displacement', 'sanctuary', 'faith shield', construct spells, healing spells, 'detect invisibility', 'fly', 'invisibility', and 'infravision'. Some of these help you gain experience faster directly with a defensive approach while others help you to walk safely to places where you need to go.

Artificial Armor

'Armor', 'shield' and 'displacement' are artificial armor spells. They protect the user by directly raising armor class (ac). 'Armor' affects ac by 20, 'shield' affects ac by 30 and 'displacement' affects ac by 40. Armor costs 8 mana, shield costs 18 mana and displacement costs 24 mana. 'Armor' is a low-level cleric spell, while 'shield' and 'displacement' are both mid-level mage spells. These spells all have a long duration. Also remember that while 'armor' and 'displacement' can be cast on others, 'shield' cannot be. These spells are the most important universal spells because they are so useful at every level. They are just as useful to lower-level characters as they are for high-level characters.

Players should allow their characters to practice 'armor', 'shield' and 'displacement' as soon as they can. Obviously a warrior or thief will find practicing displacement difficult because it is a mid-level mage spell, but the general rule of thumb is to get them as soon as possible. The better your armor class the less time you have to spend regenerating hitpoints.

Other Protection Spells

'Sanctuary' and 'crystal coat' are protection spells that decrease damage inflicted to the character affected by the spell. 'Sanctuary' reduces all damage done while 'crystal coat' provides saving throws against normal and elemental damage. Both of these spells can be cast on others. 'Crystal coat' is not quite such a universal spell because it requires the caster to be a high level mage to cast it. 'Sanctuary' is more universal because of its usefulness and because it requires its caster to only have a low level of cleric. Cutting a percentage of all damage done to you is an incredible advantage. Its limitations are its cost to cast (75 mana) and its short duration (18 minutes).

Contrast this 'faith shield', a low level cleric spell which reduces all incoming damage by a small amount depending on your cleric level. This spell carries a small mana cost and has a much longer duration. It is effective against all damage types, be they physical or magical damage, but 'faith shield' cannot be cast on others like 'sanctuary'.

Necromancers gain access to a variety of mob minions at low level. One category of these are the animated constructs, which serve as personal tanks. These minions can take incoming damage that you would other have to endure, and they can allow you to disengage and exit a losing fight. The lowest one, 'clay man', can be cast by nearly anyone nearly everyone. One can use higher level constructs: 'wood woad', 'bone guardian', 'flesh beast', or 'metal construct' if one has the necessary materials and available control points.

Since sanctuary' has these limitations other things must be considered before spending practices on it. Low-level characters using sanctuary can be overkill. If a character is not getting hit too hard in battle and is gaining a good amount of experience then sanctuary might not be necessary. Those who use offensive spells to do damage for experience may find that the loss of 75 mana before battle is not worth the benefits. It is tough to make generalizations about this spell, but here are some guidelines anyway: Lower-level warriors and thieves tend to benefit more from 'sanctuary' than spellcasters who need their mana for doing spell damage. But 'sanctuary' is one of the most powerful spells in the game. Why? Because its usefulness increases as your levels do. In many cases lower-level characters will benefit more from cure spells or simply 'faith shield'.

Take this example: You are killing some mobs without 'sanctuary'. You began with 300hp 250m 150mv. You come out of the battle with 200hp 100m 100mv (you used some damage spells). Had you used 'sanctuary' you would have ended up with 250hp 25m 100mv. But instead you are a wiser newbie and you cast heal at the end of battle (this is just an example to show an example with numbers, most likely some other cure spell would be used because heal is a higher level cleric spell). You have 300hp 50m 100mv. You increased 50hp and saved 25 mana.

And now a high level example: You do not practice 'sanctuary' ever because you read my example above and did not want to read anymore. You start your killing with 600hp 500m 230mv. When you are done you have 200hp 200m 190mv. You cast heal 4 times sending you to 600hp 0m 190mv. Had you cast 'sanctuary' at the beginning it would have gone like this: 600hp 500m 230mv -> 400hp 125m 190mv (mana for sanctuary and mana used to kill the mobs) -> (2 heals) 600hp 25m 190mv. Again this is not a real example but only to show simple numbers. Real scenarios of this type actually tend to be more dramatic than saving only 25 mana.

Cure Spells

Cure spells are spells that restore hitpoints. They may be cast on yourself or others. They are clerical spells that must be learned in progression. So although these spells are generally useful for every character to have, there are exceptions. These exceptions tend to be characters that made cleric one of their lower classes.

The cure group goes as follows: 'cure light wounds', 'cure serious wounds', 'cure critical wounds', 'heal', 'healing touch', 'breath of life', 'area heal', and 'rejuvenate'. It is best to practice the highest level healing spell (or skill, in the case of 'healing touch' you have available at your cleric level. The downside is that because these spells must be practiced in progression, so this means that 'cure light wounds' and 'cure serious wounds' must be practiced before learning 'cure critical wounds', for example. Thus, you can expect to spend at least six practices on 'cure critical wounds', but most likely you will find that it is worth it.

Why decrease mana to increase hitpoints? Well there is one obvious answer to this and another not-so-obvious answer. The obvious answer is so that you do not die when you are fighting, or so you can restore enough hitpoints to continue without dying. The less obvious answer is that as your levels increase in most cases you start to regenerate more mana than hitpoints, especially if you are a spellcaster. In effect you can increase your hitpoint regeneration rate by casting a healing spell. Of course having healing spells is not an excuse to ignore protection spells. See my example for 'sanctuary' if you do not believe me!

Other Universal Spells

'Fly' is a necessity if you need to travel through rooms where you could fall, or rooms that you need fly through. What makes 'fly' universal is its broad range of usefulness and its relatively acessible as a mid-level mage spell and can be cast on others. As already noted this spell is useful for walking through air rooms, but there are other uses this spell has hidden too. The user can also levitate over water, eliminating the need for a boat. Another added advantage to this spell is that movement costs are decreased when the spell is in use. This makes walking great distances easy. Flying also protects you from attacks that specifically target your legs or feet, such as 'trip' and 'stomp'.

'Invisibility' cannot be learned without knowing 'detect invisibility'. It is an important spell mid- to high-level spell. There are just some areas that you cannot survive in without it. They are the areas that have lots of mobs that attack you on sight. It saves much time and frustration if you can make your form invisible. What they can't see can't hurt you. Invisibility is somewhat expensive, costing 45 mana, but often worth it.

'Infravision' is absolutely essential if you want to use thief stealth skills. Many of them will not work as well or at all if you must carry a light source around with you at all times.

The ability to summon a demon familiar may not be a spell in and of itself, but summoned familiars silently cast defensive spells on everyone they are grouped with. They nature of these bonuses depends on what type of familiar has been summoned and are described in the demon familiar help page.

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