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Metis

Quick Overview of Basic Mechanics (FAQ)

81 posts in this topic

Here's to hoping this doesn't blow up. So it's been pointed out on Steam that the ingame tutorial is incomplete, the game's learning curve is steep, and the myriad of options available, while great, really doesn't help newcomers figure out just what they're supposed to do. This, I can personally confirm, is entirely on the mark.

I figured I'd try and collect and explain some of the basic mechanics that the game doesn't, and hopefully shed some light on them as I go into more detail. If that turns out to be wasted effort than, eh...go read Bobbin Threadbare's LP I suppose, 'cuz I sure as Fish can't help ya'. Anyway:

(IMPORTANT) F12 Function:

 

So if I may kindly draw your attention to the following screenshot...and don't worry about the font size, this screenshot was taken with it at it's lowest possible setting. Notice the little bar in the bottom-left corner? That, for lack of a formal name that I've ever heard or been told, is what I'll refer to as the F12 IR. Pressing F12 will toggle it on or off. The first three points of information you can largely ignore, especially now that the Steam version with it's automated updates exists. The Current Story readout, however, is very important. When the game loads the main text of an event or adventure stage, it will print the modtools name of that event or adventure stage. When the game loads an option's success or failure text, it will print the relevant event or adventure's ingame name (although for events the two are always the same anyway).

If you're at all interested in reporting typos, bugs, or other such problems, please turn on the F12 IR and keep an eye on it.

Random events don't have names like adventures or adventure stages do, and even if they did they wouldn't be visible ingame. So if you see a typo during an event about walking through a hallway to a classroom and a bucket that threatens to drop on your head, hit F12 and report that Random Event Hallway 5 has a typo in it. Needless to say that it makes things much simpler for the Team if you do so. Likewise for adventures - yes, they have proper (and visible) stage names, but some adventures are downright complicated with how it's stages are sorted in the mod tools and actually fit together ingame, and the odd stage with multiple versions of it might have given each variant the same name as well.

Steam users: It's possible that the F12 key overlaps with something from the Steam client. If so you'll have to change the Steam client's assigned key, since you cannot rebind the F12 function to another button ingame.

(Advanced) Familiar Training Strategy:

 

In order to get a good return out of your Familiar in Y1, you're going to...frankly, you're going to have to use your imagination. In terms of mechanics there is only a very narrow set of circumstance - yes, just the one - where training up a Familiar will give more than the amount of effort put into training it, and that is your student being in Zoology class. But I'm getting ahead of myself. If you want to end the year with a good, well-trained Familiar, probably for the unlikely event that Y2 will be released within our lifetimes, consider the following:

Start at Character Creation.

Once you've chosen your preferred Familiar (and which fits best for your student is a question you're going to have to ask yourself), go to the very last page of backgrounds and scroll down. See the list of Familiar Escapade and Familiar Training backgrounds? These backgrounds will usually give a bonus to your character, but always give a bonus to your Familiar. Now, your Familiar getting +1 to a few of his/her skills is all but irrelevant, so don't pay attention to that (and, subsequently, the entire line of Familiar Escapade backgrounds). What you're looking for are attributes.

Recall how much your character was thrown from one impossible random event to another in the early game? Familiars are in the same boat, only more so, and they'll stay there unless you spend points on them that you could have spend on yourself. The Familiar Training backgrounds are where you can spend background points on getting their attributes up a tick. It might not look like much, but if you're serious about training your Familiar, a few background points spend here will be well worth the investment down the line. Of particular note are the attributes that govern your Familiar's Bond subskills: Fitness (Iron), Intelligence (Silver), and Luck (Stars). No matter what Familiar you'll get or for what purpose, a serious Familiar is going to want to max out the Bond subskills, so try to make sure those three attributes aren't stuck at 1.

Gather the best tools for the job.

Recall how Train is hopelessly inefficient compared to almost everything else in the game? Train Familiar is in the same boat, so you're going to need something better. Unfortunately, there's only a single ability in the game that will allow you to train your Familiar more than one skill step worth in your choice of subskill(s) at a time: Improved Familiar Handling. If you want to train your Familiar in whatever skills you want with any degree of efficiency, you're going to need Improved Familiar Handling, and as such, Zoology 5. There's simply no other alternative.

For quickly training the Bond subskills specifically, you're going to want Entertain. And remember, every serious Familiar wants to max out Bond. As pointed out by Schwarzbart this very poorly explained action allows you to expand a Familiar's Bond subskill of your choice by a full skill level. Not one skill step, a full skill level. If your Familiar Kinship is in need of some extra ranks it might be worth using Calculate the Familiar Equation a few times, if you have it, but don't worry about hitting up a library or the Sphinx instead if Numerology isn't conveniently on your path anyway - unless your Familiar has equal Fitness/Intelligence/Luck CtFE will rapidly run out of steam. Otherwise it'll merely do so quickly.

Familiars doing their Familiar adventure, something that serious Familiars should most certainly do, are inevitably going to reach a point where they're going to need a bit of help. For this, increase your Animal Husbandry all the way to rank 10 and grab Animalistic Empathy. I won't help with parent skills, not unless you want to devote a weekend to buffing three of your Familiar's subskills, but it should still prove it's worth more often than not.

If possible, make sure you're at least Informed of Planning, Acrobatics and enough War subskills to increase the War parent skill. Planning is a Compete subskill, Acrobatics is a Sleight-of-Hand subskill. You don't need any actual skill ranks in them, strictly speaking, though in practice of course you should.

If you're really focussed on your Familiar, find Professor Pachait's Reading Room and fully Research it's associated research topic, The Beastmasters. This will give your Familiar +1 Insight and +1 Luck. I'd recommend it for people who's Familiar has low Luck, but if you don't want to go that far out of your way I won't blame you.

Efficient Familiar Training - Where it Begins.

To start with, I'm going to teach you a very simple trick that will completely trivialize keeping track of your Familiar's progress: Check your Familiar's Bond of Iron, Silver or Stars subskill to see it's progress towards the next skill level. Yes, that's it. Contrary to what I imagine most expected the game is intelligent enough to recognize that the Bond subskills are exclusive to Familiars, and as such, those skill step readouts are accurate to your Familiar's progress and needs based on his/her attributes, not your student's. This does only apply to the Bond subskills, true, but it's better than nothing.

Next, in addition to the usual mechanic of your (or in this case, your Familiar's) attributes determining how many skill steps it takes to gain a skill level, your Familiar has another rule attached to it's skill training: No Familiar subskill can be trained higher than the Familiar's natural rank in the Bond parent skill +1. This, sadly, includes the Bond subskills themselves. I say "natural" rank because Hector Per Vittoria's Clique ability, Hector's Influence, gives your Familiar +3 to his/her Bond parent skill, but this does not increase his/her skill training cap. So if your Familiar has Bond of Iron 2, Bond of Silver 1 and Bond of Stars 1, any steps put into Bond of Iron will be wasted - the natural Bond skill of that Familiar is 1, the third lowest Bond subskill, so all his/her subskills are capped at 2.

Once you've committed those two things to memory it's time to start training your Familiar. Begin with getting his/her Bond skill up just a little bit. Rank 2, 3 if you want to be safe, will do fine. At such low levels Improved Familiar Handling/Calculate the Familiar Equation should be able to squeeze multiple skill level increases out of single turns, so start with that. Once you've done that, if possible, train your Familiar's Planning, Acrobatics and War skills to rank 2, 3 and 2 respectively. The reason why is because Learn from Mistakes, Athletic and Understand Strategy work for your Familiar just as well as they do for you. With all three, your Familiar will end up with +1 Intelligence, +2 Insight and +1 Fitness. As for the other "easy" skill ranks that give an attribute point, don't bother with them, at least not yet. Most need too many skill ranks, especially since your Familiar has his/her Bond skill level to consider, and Danger Sense just takes too many skill steps to be worth it right now. Soon, don't worry, but not yet.

With as many permanent attribute points pumped into your Familiar as a sane person can manage it's time to max out Bond. Rather than bother with micro-managing skill steps, Improved Familiar Handling, Calculate the Familiar Equation, The Familiar's Gift or Lend Attribute abilities, which likely would end up saving little to no time anyway, just set enough time aside to drop ~24-21 turns worth of Entertain on your Familiar until it reaches Bond 10. Just remember to keep the Familiar's skill cap in mind, I.E. don't train up the Bond subskills one at a time. Incidentally, maxing out a Bond subskill will reward your Familiar with one or more attribute point increases - in total, s/he'll get +1 to all attribute points from getting Bond 10.

Efficient Familiar Training - Where it Ends.

At rank 8 (or for Stars, 6) the Bond subskills will give your student a very useful set of abilities - Lend Attribute. These abilities, for three days, will reduce one of your attributes by 1, but increase your Familiar's attribute by 3 for the same length of time. You can't stack this effect, sadly, at least not for the same attribute. Still, these abilities are what open up the possibility of efficient Familiar training, since +3 to a subskill's dominant attribute is as good as it gets for your Familiar. So it's time to start preparing your Familiar for his/her Familiar adventure.

Every Familiar (I believe) has an adventure that s/he must do on his/her own - s/he'll make all the rolls using his/her attributes and skills, get most of the skill step awards, and finally, get an attribute point at the end of it. Yes, we're still going after those. Most Familiars also have a Bond adventure, which is an adventure that your student goes through with his/her Familiar, which also rewards you and your Familiar with an attribute point. You can check the Wiki for what the names of your Familiar's adventure and Bond adventure is, if they have one. Your Familiar, at this point, shouldn't have too much trouble with his/her personal adventure. You've got all the tools to train them well and are practically done with making training as easy for them as you possibly can, and even if that fails, you can use Animalistic Empathy and/or a Lend Attribute to make up for the difference.

Once you've done all of that you'll have a Familiar with close to as many attribute points as s/he's ever going to have, Improved Familiar handling to drop 4 separate steps worth of skills on them on a daily basis, and a full array of Lend Attribute abilities to speed up training the more difficult skills. Now all that's left is to spend time training your Familiar in whatever skills you want it to have and hope that, at some point within our lifetime, Y2 will be released for you to enjoy with a powerful, useful and (probably, at least relatively) easily trained Familiar.

(Advanced) The Forbidden Arts (Imagination/Improvisation 101 required):

 

In addition to the six legal(ly recognized) schools of magic - Artifice/Enchant, Astrology, Glamour, Incantation, Negation and Revision - there are the forbidden arts. Gates, known for teleportation and summoning monsters, and Mastery, known solely for mentally forcing your will upon others in the worst way possible. During your time in the Academagia you can find traces of these skills, study them, perhaps even come into contact with others who are willing to teach you, and ultimately become a student of either one or both of the forbidden art(s).

On story and gameplay segregation disintegration...

It should be noted that how forbidden magic is portrayed in the story and how it's handled mechanically are two completely different things. Story wise, being caught casting forbidden magic is grounds for immediate expulsion, arrest, and depending on your social standing, either being cloistered or swiftly executed. Mechanically, you can chain-Master the entire first year's student body or summon multiple otherworldly beings during a Duel with no one batting an eyelash. Further, whereas Gates magic in the story suffers from something known as The Curse/Chaos Factor, mechanically nothing unusual will ever happen when you cast a Gates spell. And finally, whereas story wise no adult (save very few exceptions) would ever admit to knowing forbidden magic and certainly never teach their secret knowledge to anyone, mechanically it's entirely possible to get steps in forbidden magic through actions/abilities like Office Hours, watching a public trial at Daribus Conley's Court, Joie de Vivre, among a few others. Unlikely, sure, but possible.

Y2 is slated to fix all of the above shortcomings, so given just a bit of patience and a drink from the elixir of life you'll be able to give your imagination a break. In theory. Until that heat death of the universe day, if you want your student to do the forbidden magic dance, be prepared to imagine and improvise. A lot.

Why forbidden magic?

The first question you should ask yourself about studying the forbidden arts is why your student would (and/or should). The mechanical side of things...fails to enforce the story side of things, to put it politely, but the study of forbidden magic should nevertheless still be more than just "my student ran out of skills to max out, so I decided to study forbidden magic on the side". Why, you ask? Because mechanically, there's only very few opportunities to actually use forbidden magic during, say, events or adventures. The study of any one of Glamour/Incantation/Revision/Negation will get you much further than the study of Gates and Mastery combined, in that respect, so if you want to get something out of your study of the forbidden schools you're going to have to use your imagination a bit. Unless turning Joana into a puppet and/or summoning a Blood Tarantula every time Philippe decides to unleash his Familiar on you is reward enough, but I'll proceed on the assumption that it's not.

...I didn't say it's a probable assumption, I'm saying it's what I'll proceed with.

There's plenty of reasons why your student would study forbidden magic. Is s/he just overly curious and adventurous, as one might expect from someone so young? Are you perhaps expecting to make some very dangerous enemies, and either want to know how to defend yourself or try your hand at fighting summoned/mental fire with a batch of summoned/mental fire of your own? Do you plan on becoming such a dangerous enemy yourself, whoever your chosen opponent might be? Is there perhaps a bit of your history that draws you to either school, and gives you a reason to study it? Do you seek to cleanse yourself of some corruption, do you merely wish to understand what's going on with you, or do you perhaps have some untapped talent that you wish to turn into something you can use? Or does a more mature (if, some would claim, still foolish) intellectual thirst drive you? Wishing to know what knowledge was lost, what thereof could possibly be used for good no matter what those stuffy politicians say, or perhaps whether the story portrayed in the painfully vague/biased pages of history reflect the truth of the lost magic?

Either which way, make sure you're willing to risk very little, if anything at all life and limb for it...

Self-study.

Mechanically, the forbidden magic skills work the same as most other magic skills do. There's a Gates/Mastery parent skill, which has four subskills that cover that school's Methods, Phemes, Spells and Theory. Get informed of the subskill and you can train them, you unlock stuff as you gain skill levels, and when at least three subskills increase so does the parent skill, etc. Standard stuff you should be well familiar with by now. As such, all the tricks you've learned to unlock a given subskill work just as well for the forbidden magic subskills, it's just a matter of finding the right action/ability/Pheme/adventure/item/spell/what have you. If you need/want help, at the bottom of the Gates and Mastery pages on the wiki you'll find a list of possible methods to unlock various Gates/Mastery subskills. It's not completely comprehensive and/or up to date, but it'll do.

Once you're properly informed of a Gates/Mastery subskill you can train it as you would any other skill, so hit up a library, the Sphinx or your training method of choice. It'll take a while to master the forbidden schools (or master them as much as a first year student can, at any rate) solely through studying them yourself, but some would say it's the safest(/sanest) option.

Being in dangerous (but instructive) company.

Alternatively, there's one secret group you can join in Y1 that studies/teaches the art of Gates, and another that studies/teaches the art of Mastery. Both require spending a background point to unlock an adventure that has to be completed before you get access to the good stuff...but once you do you'll not only have access to training Gates and Mastery, but efficient training thereof. Of course being part of such a group comes with additional pros and cons, but I'll leave it to you to figure out (and, perhaps, regret) the details thereof.

For Gates, you want the Family: The Secret Heritage background on the second page. Please note that the location(s) that this unlocks could be accessed without the background way back in the first 1.0 release version of the game, but while that path has been left sort of intact for Y2 save import compatibility purposes (or...some such) to get into the school while using any DLC - even the very first one - you must have the background. Yes, even if you discover the right location despite it's new Exploration Difficulty of 999 you cannot complete the old path to get into the school without the background. Also note that the adventure and the additional research subjects that are unlocked give out a wealth of lores, which while not useful in Y1 are slated to play a more important role in Y2. Really, the fact that there's a wealth of lore about a subject that's been proscribed for centuries alone should tell you something.

For Mastery, you want the new Academy: Purple Wizards of Thei background on the fourth page. That's...really all I have to say about it :).

So, hey, what about-

The subject title is The Forbidden Arts, not The Magical Arts With Questionable Legal Status. If you're curious, get Flowers 4 (Study the Fields a few times, it's an ability you should start the game with) and go on the An Outing... adventure. Just one word of warning: Students of the Mastery that people know and fear should maybe, possibly, probably avoid that particular adventure.

Adventures:

 

Adventures are the meat of the game, so of course you want to do as many of them as possible. But how? Let me begin with explaining the very basics of adventure mechanics.

Adventures consist of a number of stages, anywhere from a single one to totalling 20+ for a single adventure. An adventure stage consist of a main text and a series of options - Exits and, commonly, one (or more) Investigation(s). Exits are the options that will drive the adventure forwards, usually requiring you to succeed at a roll, with the adventure usually stalling if you fail. Investigations allow you to attempt to discover a third option, a third path in rare cases, and/or makes it easier for you to succeed in some way. Mechanically, the only way to reliably distinguish Exits and Investigations is to have a Clique member who you've not yet sacrificed. I'll get to the mechanics of that feature later, for now just know that the option to sacrifice a member only appears if you've selected an exit, not an investigation.

Once you've succeed at an adventure stage, it can proceed in one of two different ways, continuously or segmented. If an adventure stage is continuous it'll immediately proceed with the next stage, without giving you the chance to do anything before requiring you to deal with whatever fun (or Fun) the next stage brings. If an adventure stage segments than it halts the adventure for that turn. More often than not you'll be able to pick up the adventure where you left off next time, assuming you succeeded at your roll, but doing so does eat up an additional turn. Adventures usually are either entirely segmented or entirely continuous, although adventures that are a mix of both exist as well.

Sad to say, there isn't an ingame method of checking an adventure's relative "difficulty" or minimum time requirement. Any given adventure in the great big list of adventures might be a dozen-turn monster with parent skill rolls v. 20+ near the end, or they might be a brief one-shot who's rolls cap at v. 7 or thereabouts. Worse, there's no way to check what you'll need for any given adventure stage, let stand the possible 10+ stages that might come right afterwards. The adventures in the adventure list are color-coded equal to the color of the best Exit roll for you, but sadly the game can't check whether that green exit is actually gated behind a purple investigation, leaving your supposedly green adventure with a couple of red and purple options. Meta-gaming is, sadly, required here if you don't want to rely entirely on trial and error.

That all said, I can offer the following pointers if you wish to succeed at adventures without simply looking ahead in the plot every single time:

  • Get friends! If one of your Clique members has a better roll than you during an adventure, you'll actually use their roll instead of your own. Now mind you, this isn't going to get you past the really difficult stuff, and NPCs really don't train much beyond what few skills interest them, but it might get you past an early stage you'd otherwise have trouble with. Every student also starts with a bunch of ranks in anywhere from a small number to a small bunch of skills, so especially early on it's likely that their rolls will beat yours.
  • In addition to the above, you can Sacrifice a Member during an adventure to automatically pass a single Exit roll. You can only do this once per friend, your relationship with your friend will take a minor hit, and you sadly won't be able to see the success text, but you'll be able to continue with the adventure as if you had succeeded at the roll in every other respect (including gaining all of the rewards).
  • Cleanse and Remake is a great all-purpose "I don't know what's coming so I'll prepare for everything" spell. It's not (necessarily) the best idea to rely on it, it certainly isn't reliable, but it is an option.
  • Likewise, Seven Favors (Spell) is a fantastic panic button, especially combined with Cleanse and Remake. It is quite the royal pain to unlock and time right and set up, true, but 3 blanket re-rolls on all attributes is bonkers. I'm talking a 50% chance to fail becomes a 6.25% chance to fail. Or a 90% chance to fail becomes a ~66.6% chance to fail.
  • As a less powerful, but easier to obtain alternative to Seven Favors, try befriending Sheary Warrington.
  • Creative Approach also works, if you max out Creativity (it's an Art subskill).
  • For a more limited spread, but even more accessible (relatively) re-rolls, gain 3 Glory and maintain low stress to gain Elation.

In addition, here's some general advice when it comes to adventures:

  • The tutorial adventure that you can choose to initiate on Juvenalia, the game's first day, is (relatively speaking) very easy, quite long, and has quite generous rewards. Even if you don't care for the tutorial at all, initiate it anyway just for the adventure. Seriously. Do not turn down Oan's tutorial adventure.
  • The main adventure paths, while of course pivotal to the game's main plot (and yes, there is, in fact, an (entirely optional) main plot), are really hard. Newcomers should avoid these adventures until they've familiarized themselves with the game enough to understand why an Intelligence/Negation Spells v. 20 roll is a tall order.
  • Student adventures, are, as a general rule, likewise on the hard side. As much as you'll undoubtedly want to do your friends' adventures to help them ASAP, save them for later.
  • Adventures in the adventure list are, in fact, listed in alphabetic order. Only they're listed alphabetically by their modtools name rather than their given stage name. Nevertheless, use this to keep track of which adventures you're started, beyond the obvious blue adventure amid a sea of green - they're always in the same (rough) spot in the adventure list.
  • Adventures can be (un)locked by raising your skill levels, passing certain ingame dates, being in certain colleges/classes, having high/low relationships with specific students/professors, high/low attributes, backgrounds, knowing or not knowing certain locations, among other things. If you don't see any appealing adventures just do something else for a week or so, there'll probably be a new adventure waiting.
  • A small number of locations have location adventures associated with them, which trigger the first time you spend a turn at the location. These adventures cannot be initiated in any other way.

Attributes (primary):

 

Your attributes are Fitness, Finesse, Charm, Strength, Intelligence, Insight and Luck. Every Attribute:

  • Reduces the amount of skill steps necessary to gain a full skill level. Each subskill is tied to a single attribute, and the higher the attribute (up to about 5 or 6), the easier the subskill is to train. Temporary increases/decreases to an attribute will count towards this, so spending a turn to buff an attribute can, in fact, result in a net time gain when training skills.
  • Adds to your rolls. Note that unless you get cursed so badly that an attribute goes negative they will never penalize rolls.

In addition to that, specifically:

  • Fitness determines your base Stress Max and Vitality Max - both are simply Fitness×2.
  • Finesse determines your base Concealment value, which is Finesse×2
  • Strength determines your base Encumbrance value, which, as you probably figured out, is Strength×2
  • Luck determines your base chance of running into a random event, although the difference between 1 and 5 Luck isn't especially noticeable.

Attributes (secondary):

 

Your secondary attributes, as I call them, are Stress, Vitality, Encumbrance, and Concealment.

  • Stress is exactly what it says on the tin. It goes up as other students bully you, events go badly, or you push yourself through adding a Stress Bonus. High stress can cause you to suffer negative Emotions, so it's better not to maintain a high stress value. If you exceed your stress max you will get sick and be forced to skip an entire day.
  • Vitality also speaks for itself rather well. It goes down as other students cast damaging spells on you, events go badly, or you perform one of a few actions/abilities that damage you. There is no penalty to walking around with less than max vitality as there is with stress, except that a string of bad luck will drop you to 0 vitality or lower, forcing you to skip an entire day due to injuries.
  • Encumbrance represents the weight of all the items you have equipped and are carrying around in your knapsack. If your carried value exceeds your Encumbrance there is a chance that you will be reprimanded for breaking dress code.
  • Concealment is, in essence, a different flavour of Encumbrance, and functions basically the exact same way.

Character Creation (Mechanics):

 

Just a few things to keep in mind. In order:

  • Both the list of backgrounds and the descriptions of the individual backgrounds can scroll. If needed, click on either one to select it first.
  • Once you've taken a background that is mutually exclusive with other backgrounds, the ones you can no longer take will gray out. When you scroll past that page of backgrounds and come back, the backgrounds that used to be greyed out will disappear entirely. So if you choose Apprenticeship: Spy, change page and come back, Apprenticeship: Page will be gone. If you've changed your mind on which mutually exclusive background to take, de-select the one you've got, reload the page again, and the ones that vanished will return and be available again.
  • A few backgrounds cost 2 background points instead of 1, which will be stated in the background's description.
  • Some backgrounds are actually character flaws that will give you a background point instead of costing one. The game is less explicit about pointing these out, but reading their description should make it obvious that it's a flaw. And if not that, than the part where it gives you a background point instead of taking one.

Character Creation (reference lists):

 

Backgrounds that, among other things, increase an attribute (all by +1):

Fitness:
-Omen: Blood Moon
-Family: Sports

Finesse:
-Omen: Three Suns
-History: Artisans of Skill
-Prodigy: Life of Avarice
-Apprenticeship: Spy

Charm:
-Family: Sky Pirates
-Prodigy: Center of Attention

Strength:
-Omen: Island Lights
-Deed: Lonely Sentinel
-Prodigy: Battle-born

Intelligence:
-Omen: Shattered Mirrors
-Family: Graverobbers

Insight:
-Omen: Islandquake
-Prodigy: Spiritual

Luck:
-Astrology: The Comet
-History: Descended from Heroes

  • All Omen backgrounds are mutually exclusive with one another (or at least should be).
  • Apprenticeship: Spy is mutually exclusive with Apprenticeship: Page.
  • Family: Graverobbers is mutually exclusive with Family: Religious.

Flaw Backgrounds (and their effects):

Family: Black Sheep

Parental Approval can never go above 0. Money isn't too hard to come by ingame, but a year's worth of allowance can add up to a healthy pile of Pims in the end.

History: Descended of Traitors

10 random students get -2 to their relationship with you, which is cumulative if the stars align and one student is chosen multiple times (up to a theoretical max of 5 times, although twice is honestly improbable enough). Relationships aren't difficult to increase ingame, and most students don't take time out of their busy days to Bully others even if they dislike them. Of course "most" is not "all", and while -2 doesn't guarantee that you'll be targeted until someone even more hated enters the picture, it will give you first dips on the various ways that other students can cause problems for yours.

Deed: Negated

+15% Chance of Failure on all spellcasting checks, although you also get +2 relationship with Ana Flavia Bessa and Joana Lio y Rossollo. This CoF does not apply to any spellcasting done during events, adventures, or exams, only spells you actually spend a turn casting. If you're the kind of player who can get by without casting many Cleanse and Remakes spells, this isn't much of a penalty. If you're the kind of player who relies on either it or spells like Intense Focus, From Novice to Master and Mathematical Acuity to get you through adventures, among others, this is going to end up being a frustrating pain in the rear.

Prodigy: Bad Luck Magnet

+5% Chance of Failure on every skill check. If you want to add an invisible d20 to every skill check that forces a fumble on a natural 1 no matter what you actual skill roll is, this is the background for you.

Familiar Bond: Rock

Get Pebbles as your Familiar. More statistically useless and a more obnoxious personality than Pamela, you're going to have to work to get rid of this guy rather than getting him to work for you, as you would a normal Familiar. And no, neither Exchange Familiar or Gift of the Familiar can be used to get rid of him the "easy" way (or at least you shouldn't, if either method does work that's actually a bug).

Friendships: Actually, Bitter Hatred

-5 relationship with a random Morvidus student, and you start with +2 Stress. This is a very swing or miss flaw in terms of actually imposing a penalty to your character. Get -5 relationship with Girars de Periarde? Well, you've ticked off a stubborn pacifist, that sure is going to be the death of you. Get -5 with Joana Lio y Rossollo? Let's see, bullying listed on every AI table that's ever existed, Hostile 7 on the personality preferences, has a roll of Strength 6/Bully 3 at the start of the game...well, on the bright side, you're going to be on a first name basis with the infirmary staff by the end of Athonos.

Available Colleges (on the Wiki).

Available Classes and their keyed Attribute (on the Wiki).

Default Name and Gender of the Exotic Familiars:

Bat - Erzatz (male)
Carnivorous Plant - Miranda (female)
Chameleon - Neshcha (female)
Doll - Silent Alice (female)
Faux Dragon - Coca (female)
Ferret - Dancer (male)
Fish - Elephant (female)
Hawk - Condotierre (male)
Hedgehog - Needleshanks (male)
Lizard - Armand (male)
Mole - Rockdiver (female)
Monkey - Nancy Japes (female)
Muffler - Whispertooth (male)
Porcupine - Ingenivine (female)
Rabbit - Rapidly (male)
Shade - Shadow (male)
Snake - Mundigand (male)
Spider - Ness (female)
Sprite - Wildflower (female)
Toad - Eleazara the Fantastic (female)
Turtle - Serenissimo (male)

Character Creation (tips on creating a character):

 

There is no general "best" way to do character creation in this game. What you're going to need depends on your College, your class load, your student, what adventures you'll do, what REs you'll end up facing, what random gains end up giving you...a ton of factors. No two games will ever be 100% the same, so there is no 100% best way to play it. That said, I can offer the following general tips:

  • Never have less than 4 Stress Max at the start of the game. More isn't strictly necessary, although it wouldn't be unwelcome either.
  • Familiars can be a giant time sink that take careful investment and planning to get a real return out of. Newcomers should consider getting Pamela (the default Familiar you get if you don't get anything else from CC) and simply not doing anything with her, ever. It's a sad state of affairs, but it's what it is.
  • Focus on Attributes. Don't go completely crazy with them either, but if the choice is between an attribute and no attribute, choose the attribute. A full spread of 2s should be plenty.
  • Money is a factor in this game, but not a large one. You'll want some amount of money/allowance to start with, but beyond that, you're probably good.
  • Flaws can be very hit-or-miss in terms of imposing an actual penalty to your character, usually leaning towards "miss"...but when they hit, they hit. Newcomers should avoid flaws at first, just in case.
  • Backgrounds that only increase relationships can be skipped. They might play bigger roles in later years, but looking solely at Y1, they don't do anything special you can't easily accomplish ingame, so they can be skipped.
  • Backgrounds that give you unique actions or abilities can generally be skipped, as said actions/abilities tend not to be great. And learning to rely on them wouldn't be a good idea in any respect, anyway.

And more specific tips:

  • Family: Religious opens up guaranteed, 3× Temple of Iudocia on Juvenalia Cleanse and Remake abuse. See the C/R section for more details.
  • Family: Sky Pirates, am I sad to say, is a giant trap because of the CoD increase. Newcomers should avoid it.
  • Family: The Secret Heritage really opens up the doors for studying the forbidden school of Gates. Newcomers should avoid it, however, as forbidden magic is hard to learn and hard to use.
  • History: Descended from Heroes reduces Stress Max. It's fine to take besides that, just make sure to account for the penalty.
  • Heritage: Strozzan, Apprenticeship: Spy and Exploits: Exotic Blackmail, among other things, all reveal the Observation skill. If possible, spare a point for one of them.

Chance of Success/Failure, Chance of Detection, Glory, Parental Approval, Re-Rolls and Skill Substitution:

 

Chance of Success, in situations where it applies, gives a flat chance that whatever roll is in front of you will succeed, no questions asked. It's entirely possible to pass normally impossible purple checks because of a lucky CoS roll, I've done it before. As you'd expect raising CoS permanently is generally accomplished through Background choices, though a few rare abilities boost it as well. Temporary increases can be gained from spells or performing the appropriate action at specific Locations. The Great Hall, for example, raises the CoS of the Befriend action by 10% when it's done on site.

Chance of Failure is, as you'd probably (and not unreasonably) expect, the opposite of CoS. For reference, CoS and CoF don't cancel each other out or interact in any real way. CoF is checked before CoS, and that's pretty much it. Meaning that if you have 100% CoS and 100% CoF on a roll you will end up failing due to a CoF trigger. CoF can be permanently increased by a few flaw backgrounds, negative Emotions, and a few hostile spells. Temporary sources can usually be cleared by spending a turn Resting, or otherwise waiting for a spell to run out.

Chance of Detection is the flat chance that you're going to be caught and reprimanded for trespassing for spending a turn in a location where you don't have Visitation Rights for. Spend a turn in a library with a 5% CoD? There's a 5% chance that you'll get reprimanded for trespassing. Each location has it's own CoD value that can be checked through the Lore tab, which also lists the locations you're informed of. In your inventory you can see your personal modifier to your CoD, which is a straight addition/reduction to every location's CoD - if you spend a turn in a location with a 5% CoD, but your equipped items give you a -3% to your CoD, there's a 2% chance you'll get caught and reprimanded for trespassing that turn.

Glory is an invisible stat that acts as a measure of how (in)famous you are both on campus and outside of it. It's exact mechanical effects have been left vague by the development Team, so I couldn't tell you exactly what it does. It's assumed to increase your CoS with social type actions, while also making you a bigger target for NPC students' shenanigans (both good and bad). It's also assumed that, whatever it's effects are, there are diminishing returns to it's benefits.

Parental Approval, or PA, is your student's bi-weekly allowance that s/he gets from his/her parents. It's starting value is determined during character creation (default 0 if nothing else changes it), and it can be increased in a number of ways. Students with the Black Sheep flaw, however, are stuck with 0 PA from start to finish. Other students can increase it by finishing their studies for their classes, getting specific skill rank increases, writing home (either through the basic Correspond or it's effective upgrade, Write Thoughtful Letter), befriending Emilia Strolin or Flore Yveuillet, getting PA from calling in a Favor with a professor, the odd event/adventure, among other things.

A Re-roll is exactly what it says on the tin. It can be either good or bad, forcing you to re-roll and take either the best or worst results, depending on the source. Also depending on the source is how many times you'll be forced to re-roll, and what rolls specifically are affected.

Skill Substitution is an ever rarer effect than re-rolls, but when it's in play it replaces one skill for another. The key thing to know about skill substitution is that it only affects rolls and nothing else. And no, Exams do not use normal rolls that substitution applies to.

Class Skipping and Detention:

 

Class Skipping:

Any time your calender has you Attend Classes you can replace the action with something else of your choosing, skipping either your morning or afternoon classes. The downsides of this are many - you won't gain any of the skill steps that that turn's classes would have taught you (if any), your chance of getting caught and reprimanded for skipping classes goes up, there's a chance you'll get caught and reprimanded for skipping classes (this may sound familiar), and you'll forfeit the opportunity to get a small bonus in Y2 for maintaining perfect attendance throughout the entirety of Y1 (for all the nothing that matters with Y2 being scheduled for a post-Armageddon release). There's no difference between skipping morning or afternoon classes in terms of your chance of getting caught, by the by...:(

So why would you skip classes? Decisions of playing a truant aside, the primary reason is actually due to an engine quirk: During the two exam months, Cheimare and Kaliri, classes physically cannot teach anything. Yes, really. Skill steps could be programmed for classes to teach during those two months, but they'd either be lost or shoved to the few days before or after the month in question (Kaliri being the end of a given school year notwithstanding). As such, skipping classes during these two months can only be to your benefit...until you get caught. Getting caught, FYI, is purely random chance. Someone with -20 CoD% and 11 ranks in every skill that a (stage) magician could use to hide him/herself might get caught right away, whereas the child of traitorous sky pirates could theoretically skip two full weeks worth of classes before someone seemingly cared to take notice.

Detention:

Detention is the result of getting reprimanded, which can happen for a large number of reasons. Get caught trespassing in a location you don't have official Visitation Rights for, fail a bad random event or adventure option, get squealed on by Cosetta Re, get caught skipping class or breaking dress code? It all gets you a conduct reprimand, and unless you get exceedingly lucky with a professor looking the other way (which can happen, rarely, if you have a high relationship with a professor), you'll end up getting assigned detention - a turn where you just sit somewhere and do some mind-numbing work that a professor puts out for you.

Getting out of detention is rather simple - look up which Instructor you're in detention with (the end of day report should clarify which professor reprimanded you), and train up that instructor's detention subjects a bit. Don't have them unlocked? Well, going to detention will train them for you, so...at least there's that. It's not the greatest way to unlock a new skill, but it's something. The way detention works is that when you attend detention the game will secretly make you do a (relatively easy) roll of one of a professor's detention subjects, chosen at random. If that roll succeeds, no matter the offence, your detention is over. That said you do not want to stack reprimands, or worse yet skip detention, because either will quickly get you into increasingly bigger trouble with the Academagia's faculty.

If you skip detention, or have gotten four conduct reprimands within the last month, you will get Hall Sessions instead of simple detention - this skips an entire Saturday, rather than just one turn. Get three Hall Sessions within one month, and you move up to the final tier of "detention", namely being summoned before the Praetexta Court - a council made up of the Academagia's Regents and the Legate. When you're summoned before the Praetexta Court you're given one chance, once, to convince the faculty why you shouldn't be expelled. Fail that singular chance, or be summoned before the Praetexta Court a second time, and you will be expelled from the Academagia. In Y1, this is the only way to get an honest-to-goodness Game Over.

Separate from the above horror story, there also exists academic reprimands. Basically, if you utterly fluff up one of your mid-terms, you'll be given a Hall Session. I'll forgive you if you proceed to forget that, because you pretty much have to go out of your way to get one. Unless you exceed your stress max or bottom out on vitality the day of an exam - unlike classes and detentions, you can't skip exams. Your professors will find you, drag you to your exam and if you can't write down a word because you're bleeding out with a broken arm, that's just tough luck. Keep a close eye on your stress and vitality once the exam reminder comes up.

Cleanse and Cheesemake Remake (Or: Cheese and Remake):

 

If there existed something that broke the game's balance over it's knee, Cleanse and Remake would be it. If there exists a crutch strategy approach to this game, spamming that spell...is it.

By getting early access to the Temple of Iudocia location and a pile of money, preferably through Character Creation (although not necessarily - in either case starting with 3+ Insight helps), you can spend some turns spamming Temple of Iudocia - an ability that, for the low cost of 5 Pims, expands Piety, Prayer, Oratory, and Theology by 1 SS. In so doing, you will eventually unlock the ability to cast Cleanse and Remake, a spell that requires an Insight/Piety v.13 roll to get off successfully. Cast it at Durand's Prayer Grove, a location you will undoubtedly unlock in the process of unlocking the spell itself, and you've got very good odds to cast the spell successfully. What does Cleanse and Remake do? +3 to all attributes, except Charm which gets +4, in return for -1 to basically all rolls for 4 days.

That changes everything. Getting +0 to +6 to all rolls (+0 to +8 for Charm rolls) in return for a -1 penalty is, more often than not, a net increase, or at least not a net decrease. Further, per the rules of attributes lowering the amount of skill steps required to gain skill levels, every step you get will translate into levels for much longer. And with such high attributes, the odd success on early random events, just through sheer force of luck, will give you those skill steps. That spiral of success even bleeds over into adventures, which will succeed more frequently early on, gaining even more early steps that cash in for early levels, and the spiral goes on.

The cost? It takes many turns to constantly keep Cleanse and Remake active. Around 1-3 turns per week, which is not a small number, and that's not accounting for the rare times that casting the spell will inevitably fail. It might not be the most efficient way to spend your time, but if success if your only goal, it is an option worth trying.

Cliques:

 

Cliques are groups of friends who help each other out through the lending of skills, Clique Abilities (that have been fixed as of the 3.0.8 patch), and a valiant sacrifice in the face of impossible odds.

...That last one isn't quite as dramatic in practice as it sounds, honest.

When you add a student to your Clique, you get access to their Clique ability. Some are useless. Some are highly situational. Some are just plain awesome. Either way, you will get it. During adventures, two things happen due to your friend(s). First, if you ever encounter a roll that a friend has a better chance of succeeding at than you, you'll actually use your friend's stats instead of your own. Second, you get the option to sacrifice your friend. You can only do it once per friend, and doing so will reduce your relationship by 1 (not permanently, mind), but it allows you to pass a single exit check during an adventure, no questions asked. You sadly don't get to see the success text, but you get everything else as if you succeeded normally.

Cliques can be started/added to in two ways. The basic way you're going to need to use at the start is the Befriend action. You start the game with it, so no worries about finding it, but there is something special about it. On paper, it's a contested Charm/Befriend check. In actuality, it has quite a few arcane mechanics to it that make it more or less likely to work. The game never clarifies the specifics, but I can tell you that an attempt to Befriend is more likely to succeed if:

  • Your target is not in a Clique already.
  • Your target has a high relationship with you.
  • Your target is in the same College as you.
  • There are fewer people in your Clique to begin with.
  • The people you do have have a high relationship with your target.

The second, more mid-game way of adding to a Clique is the Common Ground spell, though people with decent Charm/Befriend ranks can continue to rely on Befriend.

So how much do you need to prepare to get your first/second/third/name it friend? I don't know, that depends on a number of factors (see above). If you find yourself needing an edge, I've got two pieces of advice. First, Befriend people in either the Great Hall (+10% CoS for the Befriend action) or the Garden Gallery (+2 Bonus to Social type actions, including Befriend). Second, drop a Stress Bonus on your Befriend roll.

Be aware that Cliques can be broken up if two of it's members have a low relationship, even if their relationship with everyone else in the Clique is high. Usually you don't have to go out of your way to keep a Clique together, but the plans of a given NPC might end up saying otherwise, and certain students just plain hate each other. There's no special penalty to Befriending one after having Befriended the other in the latter case, by the by, but keeping the resulting Clique together is going to be an exercise in very frequent diplomacy. Also, lots of time.

Dealing with Bullies:

 

Inevitably you're going to end up in a situation where Joana or Philippe decide that they want you dead, Kurt decides that you're the best dummy for his Incantation target practice, or Rikildis decides that you didn't really need any of those three to not hate your guts. So how to deal with this situation, be it with fire or friendship? Well, here's some hot tips:

Don't start the fire.

Every student has a hidden Prosecution value, which is the flat chance that when something Hostile is done to them, they will do something Hostile in turn. For students like Ana Flavia Bessa, this value stands at a whole 5%. Joana Lio y Rossollo's ire stands at 15%. If that doesn't sound like much it's because there's actually supposed to be a second value in play, Blackmail Chance, but as far as I know it's associated mechanic was left on the cutting floor. For reference, Joana's BMC stands at 65% (actually low compared to Philippe's 85%, if you can believe it). Even so, Prosecution Chance can speed up the spiral of hostility if you're the one initiating it, so don't do that.

Maintain a positive relationship (however feigned it might be).

Students that cause trouble don't always inflict it upon their worst enemy, but they do more often than not, and using a Hostile typed action decreases relationships with the victim. So mend the lowered relationship, even bring it up a few extra points, and the next time it's trouble 'o clock you'll suddenly find that half the school has dips before you do. That by no means guarantees you won't get another helping of Bully, mind, but it should take a chunk out of your share.

If that doesn't prove to be enough you're going to have to invest some time into drastic measures, which boil down to one of two options. Setting up a distraction, or a Duel.

Set up a helpless victim you (lack of) moustache-twirling evil villain you long-term distraction.

Choosing a victim shouldn't be difficult, beyond Joana and Philippe you're sure to have at least one other student you wouldn't mind seeing...removed from the Academagia, so it should be just a matter of assembling the tools and putting them to work.

To start with you're going to need Demean, which is obtained from Social Skills 4. Next, you want a spell to Pheme buff your Gossip to comfortably pass Charm/Gossip v.25 rolls for at least several days. I'll leave it to you to determine which spell is the best Pheme platform for your student. Camaraderie is the Pheme you want for buffing Gossip, so fetch it. Make sure you're informed of the Garden Gallery location, as that'll help out. Also important, make sure you're Informed of the bully! There's a number of things that can make you Informed of someone, though for most games Research Family Lines should do the trick. You're also going to want the Gossip action, but you automatically start the game with that, so no need to go out of your way for that one.

When you've acquired what you need, start with the spellcasting. Again, you want to comfortably pass Charm/Gossip v.25 rolls. Once you're buffed up use Demean to lower the relationship between your patsy and the bully, and continue until their mutual relationship drops below -6. You can perform this action in the Garden Gallery to get an effective +3 to your Charm/Gossip roll. Make sure to have the patsy selected in the top slot, and the bully in the bottom slot, both times, every time. Now, Demean is a Hostile action, so you're going to incur the wrath of the student you selected in the top slot (which is why that should be your patsy and not the bully!), but that's a situation that can be addressed later. While you're in a position to use the Gossip action to it's full potential choose to spend a turn on it and choose the bully as the first target. If you're Informed of the bully you'll be able to see their relationship value with every other student in your year. If you see the bully has a low relationship with someone in your Clique, improve it. If, alternatively, you see that some of your Clique member don't like each other very much (you're always Informed of members of your Clique, by the by), improve their relationship a bit. Gossip is one of very few actions that can improve the relationship between two NPC students, and you're in a position to use it to it's full potential, so exploit this opportunity as best you can.

Once your buffs wear off and you've exploited the Gossip action for all you could get out of it, it's time to mend the relationship between yourself and your patsy. There's a ton of ways to improve your relationship with other students, though, so I'll leave it to you to figure out what works best for you. When that is done you'll have the bully at -7 or worse (hint: it's going to be worse) relationship with your patsy, and hopefully have your friends not immediately visible on their radar. Assuming the bully hasn't made other major enemies, your patsy is going to be knocked unconscious roughly once a week. If s/he has than that's that much less s/he's going to focus on you. Probably.

This means WAR (or: Setting up for a Duel):

When your relationship with someone hits somewhere around rock bottom (I believe -8 or lower) and you've got the Declare Vendetta action (Schoolyard Education 8) you can...well, declare a vendetta. Students you declare a vendetta against will see you as their rival, and they will respond in kind. Mechanically speaking, that means they switch over to using their Vendetta AI table instead of (one of) their regular AI tables. Different students react differently to being declared rivals, mind. Some will actively start to try and mend their broken relationship with you, hoping that the rivalry can be a friendly one (at least mostly). Others will think "yeah, what else is new?" and mostly go about their business as usual. Bullies, however, will generally flip a table, pick it up by the legs and smash the thing over your head until there are no tables left in all the Academagia.

Hint: There are always more tables.

Once you've declared a vendetta against someone you'll have the option of challenging them to a Duel. This is done through the Adventure action, look for an entry called "[something] Duel", "[something] Rules", or something like that. The adventure, depending on who you're challenging to a Duel, will allow you to choose one aspect of a duel - it's location, the time it takes place on the determined day, the day it takes place, what initiative is used, how initiative is won if it can be, the duel's victory condition, or something else I'm almost certainly forgetting. Everything else is pre-determined based on who you're challenging. As far as fighting a Duel goes I sadly have no idea, very few people have actually fought one and I'm no exception in that regard. What I do know is that, win or lose a Duel, once one has been fought neither party can use Hostile-type actions on the other for the remainder of the school year. I...assume there's something to be gained from winning a duel as opposing to losing one, but...*shrug*.

In Y1, NPC students cannot (or at least, do not) declare a vendetta against you, nor can your rivals challenge you to a duel. In Y2, however, that is slated to change. If you regret your choice of rival(s), the only way to dissolve a rivalry is through the Diplomacy action, which is unlocked by Heraldry 10.

Exams (or: Study and why it's (not) important):

 

Study Level:

Next to the parent skill level of the skills you've taken classes for you'll notice a small book icon with a number in it on the skills list. This is your study level of that class, which is something entirely separate from your skill level. Study level covers how well you can show what you've learned on exams, which I'll detail in a minute. In addition, raising your study level unlocks things for you just the same as skill levels do, and because study levels are exclusive to students in that class you can actually gain some otherwise unobtainable goodies this way. Beyond that study levels have no direct purpose - tests you see during REs or adventures go off of your skill levels rather than study levels, in fact you'll never be asked to roll your study level in any respect - although there are the odd REs that only fire if the study level of a specific class is within a specific range of values.

Raising your study level is just a question of spending time doing something that raises them, or getting a boost through the odd event/adventure. Unlike subskills, study levels don't operate on a mechanic where you need to accumulate enough skill steps to get a new skill level. If you do something that increases your study level, your study level goes up, up to it's natural (and final) max of 10. The most basic of basic methods to increase your study level is, not unsurprisingly, the Study action. Like it's counterpart Train, however, you don't want to rely on it as it's quite inefficient. More efficient studying can be done through Study at the Venalicium Library, an ability to start the game with, or Judge the Instructor's Taste if you're willing to put a bit of effort into raising Test Taking and Character Study (School Survival and Beguile respectively, although you might have to find the latter somewhere first). Finally, if you befriend Zoe Melis you'll be able to use her Clique ability Use Notes, which is a very efficient use of your time if you apply the +2 SS aspect correctly (see the skills section).

There's other locations where you can raise study levels as well, but I'll leave it to you to find them and judge whether they're worth anything.

Exam basics:

During the school year there are two sets of exams: Mid-terms in Cheimare, and Finals in Kaliri. The way exams work is very simple. Your minimum grade on an exam is your study level multiplied by your skill level in that subject's parent skill. Your max grade is your parent skill level ×10. Added to that, if you've earned any, is Extra Credit - something you can rarely get from the odd ability, random event, adventure, and so on. What will detract from it, heavily, is if you're sick and/or injured on the day of the exam, so keep an eye on your Stress and Vitality scores when the exam months start. So if you've got 6 Glamour study level and 5 ranks in the Glamour parent skill, on an exam you'd score a 30 to 50, plus extra credit.

If all you care about is not getting an academic reprimand for failing your exams, that's really all you need to know in terms of mechanics. Make sure that, by the start of Cheimare, all your study levels and relevant parent skill levels are at least at 5, and mid terms shouldn't be a problem. If you want to play it extra safe, raise your study levels all the way to 10. For finals, make sure that everything is at least at rank 10 at the start of Kaliri.

Breaking the exams:

Achieving academic dominance is...actually really easy. Your exam score is determined solely by four factors - study level, skill level, extra credit and the state of your health on the day of the exam. If you do/equip something to temporarily increase your skill level (or study level, but anyone who cares about exam scores should have those maxed out before Cheimare anyway), that will increase your exam score. To take Astrology as an example, you can use Create Star Chart to get a temporary +8 to the Astrology Parent skill, and on an exam, up to +80 on your score. And there are loads of ways to temporarily boost your skills to ridiculous levels. NPC students, either due to AI shortcomings or something else, don't tend to buff themselves in preparation for an exam if they're even prepared at all. So if you want to beat everyone else, you now know how to do it.

If you're interested in sabotaging other students, there's a few things you can do to lower a NPC student's study levels, temporarily reduce skill levels, and so forth. All of them are but children's toys, however, in the face of the almighty tactical nuke of NPC student exams: Negative Alteration of Organic Matter. Enough casts of that to reduce a student's parent skill to 0 (recall, a parent skill is equal to it's third highest subskill), which will almost certainly be enough to send them into the infirmary, will knock that student's academic record right back to kindergarten. Cast it at The Stone of Revision if you need a boost to cast the spell successfully.

Exploring:

 

The act of looking around for a nice location you didn't know of before in one of the game's five regions - the Academagia, the Academagia Grounds, the city of Mineta, the Imperial Reserve or Elumia Proper. In these regions are many locations, some of which are useless, some of which provide a research topic, some of which are very useful for some specific purpose, and some exist mostly to give you a reprimand for trespassing. So how does one explore?

The most basic of basic methods uses the Explore action, or Map Region, the first and only real "upgrade" to the normal Explore action. The Explore action you get from Explore (the parent skill) rank 1, Map Region lies in wait at rank 7. Exploring using either of those actions gives you the choice of which region to look around in, but since you'll end up spending a turn at the location you find you're at risk of getting caught and reprimanded for trespassing. In addition, you have to contend with Exploration Difficulty.

Exploration Difficulty is a hidden value that every location has, even if it's 0. The trick with manual exploration is that, in order to have a chance at discovering a location, your Luck/Explore roll must exceed (and/or meet, on that I'm not sure) that location's ED value. If you do, you'll have a chance - a chance - of finding that location while exploring. ED values are usually below 15 or so, but can get as high as 30. In a way, however, this can also be used to your advantage. If, say, you've got Luck 2/Explore 4, you'll know for sure that, whatever location you'll find, it will be a location with an ED of 8 or less. Because of this it might pay to do some exploration early on, when your attributes and skills are still low, and there's a greater chance of finding a useful, but easy to find location because there's a number of harder to find locations that you can't find.

If manual exploration isn't your shtick, you'll have to get more creative. There exist a handful of spells (like Historical Tendencies) and abilities (like Beatrix von Wetgen's Clique ability) that allow you to become informed of a random location, either in general or in a specific region. The upside with these methods is that, since you don't physically spend a turn in these locations, you aren't at risk of getting a reprimand for trespassing there. Another upside is that you don't have to worry about a location's ED value - you'll randomly get informed of a location, whether that location has ED 3 or ED 999 (yes, such locations exist, and no, discovering them randomly like this is not exactly intended). The downside is that it's more difficult to control and/or choose what region to look in, if you can even control or have a say in it at all.

Finally, certain skill levels will reveal locations to you, although depending on what you're looking for and what skills you have that can be a very swing or miss affair. There's also the occasional event or adventure that will reveal a location to you, but again, swing or miss.

Merit Race:

 

The Merit race is a faculty-organized competition between the various Colleges, with each year having it's own separate Merit race (if not in the story at least in the mechanics). NPC students will, at times, spend a turn using Compete, the basic action that awards that student's College some Merit. The first College who's Merit passes a certain threshold will award each of it's student that Merit prize. You can, in all honesty, go right ahead and forget about all of that because, 9 times out of 10, your College is going to be anywhere between dead last and a distant third in the Merit race, and the tenth time Aveline Cincebeaux goes utterly psychotic for...highly sophisticated reasons and Defames your College five times (in total, -50 Merit) in under a week.

Me, bitter? Perish the thought <_<.

In any event, Merit, either your College's or another's, is another one of the things you can gain or lose through actions, abilities, events, adventures, spells, cashing in favors, looking vaguely in Aveline's direction, name it. If you're interested in having your College compete in the Merit race it's recommended you Compete a lot early on and establish a good lead. Don't worry about your inability to actually pass the Insight/Compete v.12 check for the extra +3 Merit, just go. Your college mates are more inclined to Compete themselves if they're in the lead, so even Colleges that normally don't stand a chance (read: most of them) can be made competitive with some early investment and the occasional effort on your student's part.

Pheme Buffing:

 

Pheme buffing is the process of chain-casting spells with increasingly more Phemes added to them, giving an increasingly larger bonus that enable the casting of increasingly more difficult spells with increasingly more Phemes added to them. It's a very time consuming process, but if you ever need to raise a parent skill, especially an untrained one, to ludicrously high levels? Chances are you're going to need to Pheme buff. To start you need a spell that acts as a good Pheme platform. This means a spell that, ideally:

  • Lasts long, preferably three days or more.
  • Requires a low roll against a skill you've got trained.
  • Rolls a skill that you can easily buff, if need be. Usually this means a subskill.
  • Does something useful while you're trying to boost something likely completely unrelated to the spell itself.
  • Can be targeted, rather than being a spell you can only cast on yourself (though you'll only rarely need to Pheme buff someone else).
  • Doesn't require any Phemes to cast that are opposed with other, useful Phemes.

What spell works best depends on your student. Someone in Enchant and Revision is likely going to get a lot of good use out of 6th Finger, whereas someone else might go through the entire game and never learn that spell and instead use Glow of Victory. Seeing as how there's over 350 Spells listed on the Wiki, all of which might or might not have a roll required to cast and as such be use(less) for Pheme buffing, your character might or might not have, be able to cast, be able to cast well, and/or be actually useful for Pheme buffing purposes, among some other things, I'll leave it to you to determine what your best available Pheme platform is. Don't get stuck trying to find the perfect spell, something that works will do. Likewise, I'll leave it to you to pick out what Pheme(s) you're going to use. For that you'll want to consult the Wiki's catalogue of Phemes and look at the Phemes - Skills category. The best Pheme is the one that does the most for the lowest relative difficulty, that you can both access and is not opposed with any Phemes that your chosen spell requires to cast.

Once you've got your spell and Pheme(s) picked out, as well as secured access to them, it's time to get to casting. First off, if necessary, buff the skill that your chosen spell rolls. If it's a subskill you can easily raise it through Intense Focus, From Novice to Master or Mathematical Acuity. Next, start casting your Pheme platform spell with as many Phemes loaded into it that you either need or can manage without crippling your chance to actually cast the spell. Note that you can only add a max of 9 of the same Pheme to a single spell. If what you can manage isn't enough simply cast the spell more than once - buffs granted from spells you cast will stack.

I can imagine that this might look complicated, but really, it's just using a spell with some extra Phemes to buff yourself several times instead of, you know, just the once. The hardest part is choosing what to use.

Random Events:

 

Step one, drill the following into your head: You will fail at early REs. This is entirely par for the course, entirely expected, entirely normal. The trick is to learn how to get the most of out your failures.

First, whenever you fail a subskill roll, you automatically become Informed of that subskill. Failing a parent skill roll, sadly, does not reveal a subskill necessarily. So if an RE comes up with no hope of success, fail an option that'll add a new skill to your repertoire. Taking a +1 Stress or -1 Vitality hit to reveal a skill can be a good deal. If that skill is Planning it's a ludicrously favorable deal unless a meteor was involved (and even than I'd call that debatable).

Second, if an event doesn't go your way and you lose a skill step, this only actually does anything if you had a skill step to loose. Meaning, a skill was sitting at 1/2 skill steps for the next skill level, and that got reduced to 0/2 SS. Lost a skill step of a skill you weren't Informed off? Congratulations, you're now informed of it at effectively no penalty. Lost a skill step of a skill was sitting on 0 out of however many skill steps for the next skill level? Well, you didn't gain anything, but you lost nothing as well.

Third, if you got a bad event and someone is now at -1 relationship with you? Well, that can be a problem depending on who now thinks less of you, but most students don't go out of their way to hurt other students they don't like. Some do, but most don't. If you're worried, spend a turn using an action that expands your relationship with the student in question. There's plenty (Calculate the Geometry of Friendship, Encourage Fellow Student, Flatter, Flirt, Gossip and Politely Correct Grammar are all relatively basic methods), and if worst comes to worst, you've always got access to Befriend. Yes, you might not want the student as a part of your Clique, but even if you fail the Befriend roll that student will still think better of you afterwards. Just be careful not to accidentally succeed.

Fourth, an event went south and you got a Reprimand? Yeah, that just straight-up sucks, no question about that, but it's no Game Over. Unless you get reprimanded so frequently that you're summoned before the Praetexta Court without the skills necessary to talk your way out of getting expelled, but that would be an honest-to-goodness achievement.

You can also lose Merit from a bad event, but in my experience there's something like a <50% chance that Merit at all matters when you're in one of the two Colleges that's anywhere remotely likely to care about it, so...just call that a wash.

Research:

 

Researching in Academagia is, in many ways, the other side of the adventuring coin. With the Research action, which is unlocked by Study Habits 3, you can spend a turn quietly reading up on a subject, learning a bit about it without rampaging horses forcing you to make a difficult Animal Handling check, until eventually all your hard work will be rewarded with something significant. 99 times out of 100, this is either an attribute point or a skill max increase. Rarely, it's something else. The lores you get from researching doesn't give you any mechanical benefit, at least in Y1, but they contain background information you likely wouldn't find ingame otherwise.

In order to research a topic, you need a few things beyond the Research action. First is a high Research skill. How high I'm honestly not sure, but getting the Research parent skill to a natural 10 should suffice for most situations. Second, in order to be informed of a given Research Topic, you need to be informed of a specific location. You don't need to be informed of a subskill to research it, necessarily, but you should be in case the research topic in question ends with +1 skill max. Once you have both just spend a turn on Research. Successfully researching a subject raises your research level (those are listed below your skills on the skills tab, by the by) by 1 until you hit the cap of 10.

Practically, there exists no other way to research the various research topics. The Emperor's Sphinx does rarely give out random research levels instead of skill steps, but for random subjects, so...not the most reliable source, unfortunately.

Rolls and Color-Coding:

 

Every roll in the game, without exception, is a situation in which the game generates a random value between 0 and the relevant attribute×2, adds your skill level, and finally adds/subtracts miscellaneous modifiers as is necessary. If the game doesn't specify which attribute is being rolled, it's only not specifying. Note that the attribute being rolled isn't necessarily a given (sub)skills dominant attribute. It depends on the roll, but in every case some attribute is involved if a roll is involved - no exceptions.

In the game there are two kinds of rolls - rolls against a set threshold, which account for somewhere around >95% of the game's rolls, and contested rolls, which while relatively rare do exist and may be employed more (in)frequently depending on your student's actions. Rolls against a set threshold are very simple: You roll against a pre-determined difficulty, and if your roll meets or exceeds the difficulty, you pass the roll (a roll of Intelligence 0/Grammar 5 v.5 will always succeed, barring miscellaneous modifiers or Chance of Failure interfering). Contested rolls are much the same, except instead of rolling against a set difficulty to roll against the roll of, most often, another student.

The color-coding scheme that this game uses goes as follows, though please note that this isn't always 100% accurate. For the color-coding the game only takes into account your attribute and skill level, never any miscellaneous modifiers:

  • Green options are a guaranteed success barring a very unlucky roll on a Chance of Failure.
  • Blue options are more likely than not to succeed, regardless of whether that chance boils down to 51% or 99%.
  • Black options have an even 50/50 chance of succeeding or failing.
  • Red options are less likely than even to succeed, be it a 1% or a 49% chance
  • Purple options cannot succeed barring a very lucky roll on Chance of Success.

So what miscellaneous modifiers exist?

  • Your Familiar adds a bonus to every roll equal to half his/her skill ranks in the skill being rolled, up to a max of half of his/her Bond parent skill. So a Familiar with Bond 6 and Wit 6 gives you a +3 bonus to all Wit rolls, even though the color-coding will not take this into account.
  • Some things give you a Bonus to certain types of rolls, certain skill rolls, or something else of that sort. Wand Amplification, for example, gives a +4 bonus to all spell rolls. A Bonus can also be negative, such as Cleanse and Remake's -1 to practically everything. As before, color-coding does not take into account any applicable bonuses to a roll, positive or negative.
  • Some rare actions, like Befriend, have special arcane mechanics to them that are specific to them. Like the rest, the color-coding doesn't account for them at all.

In case you're curious, there's a distinction between things that give a Bonus to a roll and things that increase your skill level, which also factors into rolls and the color-coding, because some categories that a Bonus can apply to isn't represented by any skill. In addition, increases to skill levels will be reflected on your mid-terms and exams. Bonuses to rolls are not.

Romance (Or: Why a Lack Thereof?):

 

I regret to inform you that actual romance options as RPG fans are used to, by and large, simply don't exist in this game. First year students are, as a rule, 12 or 13 years old, and until his birthday on Athonos 9th poor Kurt Henning can't claim to be even that old. In addition there actually was a blanket ban on students dating until relatively recently, which has since then only been relaxed somewhat for the older students. First years, by school rules, are not allowed to date. While skills like Dating, Flirting, Romance and the like do exist in practice they're more intended for future years.

That said there's nothing stopping your student from getting a crush, going on dates anyway, abusing the feelings of others for personal gain or being told by a professor that an aura of being unapproachable and dangerous can make up a little for not having much of a bosom yet.

No, that last one is not a joke.

If you want your student to get started early with the relationship scene, you're just going to have to let your imagination fill in the blanks that the game doesn't. The absolute most that the game acknowledges, in terms of romantic involvement, is getting Love from having a relationship at 13+. That's it. Still:

  • Grab the Prodigy: On the Prowl background (among a few other social ones, probably) if you're looking for a Casanova-type.
  • If you're looking to focus on a specific NPC student, do that student's adventure and hope for a Relationship Max increase. If there isn't one to get you can take it as a sign that student simply isn't interested in romance at all, at least not until next year at least.
  • If you're looking to become a black widow, get Flirting up to 11 and cast the spell that polite company doesn't talk about.
  • Or if you'd prefer that your professor thoroughly embarrass the daylights out of you...well, truth be told that's probably more "inevitable" than something you need to go out of your way for.

Finally, on the subject of gay relationships...well, to be perfectly honest Y1 is just a mess in that regard. The game mechanics, likely dating back to early development days when the Team decided that adding proper support for homosexual romance options would take too much writing effort, try to enforce strictly heterosexual relationships...but NPC students actually aren't affected by it because of an engine bug. The (entirely unintended) end result is that your student can only Flirt with opposite-gendered students, while the entire rest of the student body can flirt with whoever, even if doing so is wildly out of character (Cyrus Dawes flirting with and/or showing off to boys being a prime example thereof). And with the addition of four new students who aren't (strictly) heterosexual, courtesy of community member Mikka, running on the exact same (broken) rules...well, suffice to say it just made things worse.

It's a situation that's slated to be improved upon in Y2, if and when that game ever sees the light of day, though I'll freely admit that improving on the hot mess of story/mechanic discrepancies described above isn't a high bar to cross. You're entirely free to roleplay a homosexual student, even form an early friendship with one of the students who'll eventually accept getting into a relationship with you, just don't expect the ingame text to reflect it at all.

Skills (Basics and Tips):

 

Skill Basics:

Skills in Academagia come in two forms - Parent skills and Subskills. Subskills are the type of skills you train directly, and each subskill belongs to one - and only one - Parent skill. Parent skills tie together three or more subskills, and instead of being trained directly are equal to their third highest subskill. If you have a parent skill with less than three subskills, you're simply not informed of them. Every parent skill, no exception, has at least three subskills.

Getting New Skills:

At the start, you will have access to very few skills. To get more, you'll need to become Informed of them. There's a few ways to do this:

  • Training a skill will rarely Inform you of another skill. Generally, you'll get this effect from a few of the School Survival subskills.
  • If you get a permanent ability that raises a skill, you're automatically Informed of it.
  • Do something that actively trains a skill you've not informed of. For example, studying in The Venalicium Library will train (and, in turn, Inform you of) the Research subskills whether you know them or not.
  • Train a completely random subskill through an action/ability like Joie de Vivre. There's no way to control what subskill you'll get other than reloading the game (and if you need to get a specific subskill this way, my condolences), but if you gain a skill step in a skill you didn't know before, you'll know it now.
  • Fail a subskill roll during an event or adventure. Yes, bad things will likely happen because of the failure, but it will Inform you of the skill.
  • Likewise, if you lose a skill step due to a failed event or adventure, you'll be Informed of the skill if you weren't already.
  • Cast a spell that increases the subskill, if it's necessary by adding a Pheme to the spell, and while the buff is in play train the skill once. Even after the buff wears off you'll still be Informed of the skill.
  • Cash in Favor with a professor. Be warned, though, that what you get from cashing in a Favor is entirely random, and each Professor has his or her own table of what they can give you at what relationship value that might change what subskills are on the table. To cash in Favor you need the Favor action, which you get from School Survival 2.
  • Equipping an item that increases or decreases a subskill will allow you to train and become Informed of it so long as the (de)buff is in play. Please note - you might have to save and reload the game, or else pass a day, before the game properly displays the effect of an equipped item.

Training Skills:

As far as training skills go, your classes will slowly train you up in their respective subjects so long as you actually attend classes. Beyond that there are a large number of ways and locations how and where you can train skills you want, train specific skills, train a handful of random skills, all sorts of stuff. The most basic of basic methods is Train, but you'll do well to obsolete that action as soon as possible, as it's quite inefficient. For better skill gains, spend some time studying in the Venalicium Library until you unlock The Library of Longshade (and the ranks in Filing needed to tidy it), The Library of the Mantle of Stars and The Library of Manetele. They're by no means the end-all be-all of skill training, but they're good places to start.

Skill Steps and Levels:

Each subskill needs a certain number of skill steps put into it before it actually goes up in level. How many depends on three factors; how many points you have in a skill's dominant attribute, how high the subskill's level is, and a hidden value called the Training Modifier. The higher your attribute, and the lower a skill's level and training modifier, the fewer skill steps are necessary to go up in level. If you're determined to train a skill that takes more than one skill step to go up in level, it might be worth casting a spell to temporarily buff that skill's dominant attribute first. It'll take a turn to cast a spell, but it might knock down the required amount of skill steps down by one. If so you've effectively wasted no time in terms of training the skill, and you gained the temporary benefits of the spell essentially for free.

Be aware that the game does not check whether you've got enough skill steps to gain a level unless you actively train a skill. It's possible for a subskill to sit on 1/2 skill steps needed for a skill level, only to have an attribute gain lower this to 1/1 SS. If this happens, one of those two steps is effectively wasted. The same holds true for abilities that give out more than one skill step at a time, in fact: Excess skill steps do not roll over. If a subskill goes up in level it'll start at zero out of however many skill steps for the next level, regardless of how many steps went into getting it up to that level, or how many were really needed.

Raising Skills Quickly:

If you manage to get the Concentration skill all the way to rank 9, you'll get access to the incredibly useful Selective Focus ability. Selective Focus allows you to temporarily reduce the Training Modifier of a subskill by 1, lowering the amount of skill steps necessary to gain skill levels. For those unaware, the lowest Training Modifier that a subskill can have is 1.00. The highest, held exclusively by Danger Sense, is 2.50. Especially skills who's dominant attribute you don't have much of, Selective Focus will easily pay for itself. In addition, there's one oddity associated with Selective Focus, called the 0/0 bug. If you use Selective Focus on a subskill who's Training Modifier is exactly 1.00 (of which there are a fair few), than no matter what your relevant attribute or the skill's level is, you will need exactly 0 skill steps for the next skill level. Meaning every single skill step is worth a skill level, no matter your attribute or the skill's current level.

Skill Level Maximum:

Under normal circumstances, subskills (and, in turn, parent skills) have a natural cap of 10. However, through use of Favors, Research, certain Merit race prizes, the occasional rank 10 or 11 skill level perk or a background or two, you'll be able to expand that cap. In theory, the only limit to how high some skills can be raised is time - Favors can be repeated as often as your character can raise professor relationships and call in the Favor. In practice, most skills have a practical cap of 11 - the only method that expands their skill level max cannot be repeated - and most skills only give out perks up to rank 11 anyway (notable exceptions being some of the School Survival Subskills, who are stuck at 10, and Numerology, which goes up to 13).

I should point out that the skill step counter displayed in the information window, to not put it politely, is not smart enough to deal with skill level cap increases. When you hover over a subskill the game will helpfully (and, in my experience, accurately) tell you what a given subskill's maximum rank is, and how many skill steps are needed for the next skill level, or else that it is maxed out. The information window will always claim that a subskill is maxed out when it is at rank 10, even when that is not the case, and at any rank other than 10 it will display how many skill steps are necessary for the next skill level, even when that subskill is maxed out at level 11 out of 11. Further, The skill level displayed in the information window it it's current level including modifiers. So a skill at level 11 out of a new cap of 11 isn't maxed out when it has a +1 applied to it.

Stress Bonus:

 

Ever wondered what that little box with the 0 in it that says "Stress Bonus" is? Wonder no longer.

Stress Bonus allows you to add a bonus to an action/spell/ability/what have you that directly requires a roll, up to your Stress Max. The cost? At the very end of the day, after adventures, random events, holiday events, and everything else has been tallied and processed, your Stress increases by the same amount. Meaning you can't get rid of it until the next day, and if you decide to max yourself out on Stress on the same day that an event goes pear shaped? Well, have fun sitting out an entire day due to sickness.

So in what situations is a Stress Bonus worth it? Primarily, it's useful for getting your Clique together early. A +3, even a +4 to an early Befriend roll in return for either Resting the next day or performing some other activity to lower Stress is a good deal.

Edited by Metis

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Yes add it to the steam discussions forum. Have a lot of questions there from people who probably not coming here.

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Character Creation:

 

There is no general "best" way to do character creation in this game. What you're going to need depends on your College, your class load, your student, what adventures you'll do, what REs you'll end up facing, what random gains end up giving you...a ton of factors. No two games will ever be 100% the same, so there is no 100% best way to play it. That said, I can offer the following general tips:

  • Familiars can be a giant time sink that take careful investment and planning to get a real return out of. Newcomers should consider getting Pamela (the default Familiar you get if you don't get anything else from CC) and simply not doing anything with her, ever. It's a sad state of affairs, but it's what it is.
  • Focus on Attributes. Don't go completely crazy with them either, but if the choice is between an attribute and no attribute, choose the attribute. A full spread of 2s should be plenty.
  • Money is a factor in this game, but not a large one. You'll want some amount of money/allowance to start with, but beyond that, you're probably good.
  • Flaws can be very hit-or-miss in terms of imposing an actual penalty to your character, usually leaning towards "miss"...but when they hit, they hit. Newcomers should avoid flaws at first, just in case.
  • Backgrounds that only increase relationships can be skipped. They might play bigger roles in later years, but looking solely at Y1, they don't do anything special you can't easily accomplish ingame, so can be skipped.
  • Backgrounds that give you unique actions or abilities can generally be skipped, as said actions/abilities tend not to be great. And learning to rely on them wouldn't be a good idea in any respect, anyway.

And more specific tips:

  • Family: Religious opens up guaranteed Cleanse and Remake abuse. See the Cleanse and Remake section for more details.
  • Family: Sky Pirates, am I sad to say, is a giant trap because of the CoD increase. Newcomers should avoid it.
  • Family: The Secret Heritage really opens up the doors for studying the forbidden school of Gates. Newcomers should avoid it, as forbidden magic is hard to learn and hard to use.
  • History: Descended from Heroes reduces your Stress Maximum. It's fine to take besides that, just make sure to account for the penalty.
  • Heritage: Strozzan, Apprenticeship: Spy and Exploits: Exotic Blackmail, among other things, all reveal the Observation skill. If possible, spare a point for one of them.

 

It's been a while since I did my DLC 16 run through (with the class skipping bug patched iirc for that game), but from looking over that end save calendar and from memory I have a suggestion or two.

 

I view the 'Adventure' action of the game as its meat & potatoes so my build was geared towards doing\unlocking as many adventures as possible (incidentally with that run I got all but Joana's student adventure done since I did Philippe's, the college specific adventures but iirc did weasel into one outside of Aranaz, I think I snagged at least one or maybe two outside Class adventures in as well, did the Trio's adventure for the main quest, and swapped familiars a number of times to do 7 of the familiar/master adventures as well but not any of the familiar only adventures). Offhand I'm sure I didn't focus on attributes but instead looked for anything that gave either a generic percentile bump to Chance of Success [CoS] or helped decrease the odds for Chance of Detection [CoD]. Any attribute bumps in character creation were incidental like Luck with Astrology:The Comet.

 

Past that I don't think I took anything just for a skill point, to inform a skill, or that granted a flat bonus to a subset of rolls (like a +1 to all hostile type actions or dueling) just for itself. IIRC unlocking the Temple of Iudocia wasn't too hard (checking...yup unlocked with Religion-Theology 1...and you can get that by Religion/Prayer 2 which discovers Durand's Prayer Grove which should get you to Theology) so I'd probably give Family: Religious a pass except for rp purposes.

 

Observation and most of the Blackmail skills also were not too hard to be informed about so I'd lean towards not taking a background strictly to open it up in character creation. Money as well wasn't too hard to come by if needed.

 

I found Elegant Service from under the Apprenticeship: Page background a real workhorse ability for most of the game. Getting a 10 relationship with a professor allows you to trade it in with the Favor action...which is in turn useful to unlock certain skills to 11 or to obtain other goodies. It also informs you about one student which is a requirement for certain spells and actions iirc (and it'll easily ensure that you are informed about the entire student body by game's end). I'm not entirely sure but iirc I also think high professor relationships also help you avoid detection or at least help get you out of detention a little earlier.

 

From looking at the calendar, the first phase of the game I would spend building your clique (sniping them before someone beats you to it or they form their own cliques) and building a baseline to increase odds of success for the early events and the mentor chain adventure. After building a foundation, obtaining Cleanse and Remake shouldn't be too hard and that should allow carry you into mid-game as mentioned and you probably won't need the crutch for the second half of the game. Endgame of course is round out what your goal for the character was...unlocking skills to 11 (in my DLC 16 building Zoology to 11 in order to unlock more adventures via Exchange Familiar and improving student relationships to do those as well), finishing key adventures, or maxing out your pillars.

 

As a side note if you go the Mastery route I found the background Academy: Safaviore Officer's School for the Train at the Safaviore ability or History: Famous Campaigners for Study Battles as I think those are one of the few routes to War/Manner of a Champion that is not entirely random (just a random bump of 1 or 2 War skills). Manner of a Champion 6 gives the Train your Company action which you can then train your clique in and then Master them into training everyone in the clique one random skill.

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Updated.

 

[big-'ol-post]

While all of that is possible it, to say the least, is not how you're going to teach a newcomer to approach the game. I'm not saying my advice is the best way to learn the game, mind you, but I'd like to think it's at least better than nothing for someone who otherwise has no idea what the hell all these options do.

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And updated again. Just FYI, but if anyone has a subject they'd like added, you can ask.

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You think parental approval and competing should be added? I know its relatively minor mechanics that people sometimes use or not at all but it could be beneficial for someone to know that parental approval increases allowance. Unless they choose black sheep.

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And if you ask me, I really enjoyed reading that community review of the Colleges. :)

 

I think that is a fun read for new players.

 

Edit: PA may be minor in Y1, but just wait until you get home...;)

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Oh I wouldn't be concerned considering most of my characters are black sheep. Unless you are implying that we get screwed over.

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You think parental approval and competing should be added? I know its relatively minor mechanics that people sometimes use or not at all but it could be beneficial for someone to know that parental approval increases allowance. Unless they choose black sheep.

Eh, PA can join the Chance of Random Terms section. As for competing, a section on the Merit race wouldn't be bad.

 

And if you ask me, I really enjoyed reading that community review of the Colleges. :)

 

I think that is a fun read for new players.

 

Edit: PA may be minor in Y1, but just wait until you get home... ;)

Well, the topic is out there and listed in the manual topic, they need but see it.

 

Oh I wouldn't be concerned considering most of my characters are black sheep. Unless you are implying that we get screwed over.

Black sheep? Eh...yeah, you're not going to have a fun homecoming.

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Updated.

 

While all of that is possible it, to say the least, is not how you're going to teach a newcomer to approach the game. I'm not saying my advice is the best way to learn the game, mind you, but I'd like to think it's at least better than nothing for someone who otherwise has no idea what the hell all these options do.

 

Yup, it's helpful but just chiming in with a few suggestions from my own experience. I remember my first start resulted in a lot of time in the infirmary because of a combination of bullying and not being able to manage the stress.

 

Even for a new player I'd always recommend Apprentice: Page for Elegant Service to obtain Favors and getting information on a student is always useful no matter skill level (and it's a pain in the butt discovering that you have to be informed on the target before using certain abilities, and it's always helpful to know where you have to be at to counter bullying). Likewise on backgrounds that provide a general percentile bonus...always useful no matter what. I'm not sure anymore if having a high relationship by sucking up to the profs helps with CoD and\or detention but if it does that's just icing on the cake.

 

For a newbie, I'm of the opinion if they are not prepping for or doing Adventures they are missing a huge portion of the game (a study worm builds for latter runs). Pointing out Cleanse and Remake and Seven Favors are great earlier game tools for completing adventures (and bumping success odds), it's just that given the low requirement to discover the Temple of Iudocia (Theology 1) makes Family: Religious background easy to pass up (just use the ability Pray at the Temple of Rostra twice to discover Durand's Prayer Grove, then do any action\ability at Durand's to inform about all the Religion skills, and use a 4th time slot to Train Theology once to discover the Temple of Iudocia...easily achieved by the third day of the first week).

 

On a related note, using location passives to inform on entire suites of subskills is something I would have liked to have known as a noob myself.

 

Likewise, getting informed on the Observation skill (given how common that roll is in events and adventures) has never been a noticeable problem...so for a newbie I'd recommend spending the background point elsewhere unless a RP choice.

 

Unlocking skills to 11 is something that is a bit more intermediate (as is Mastery & Gates), but even neophytes might hit upon by the midpoint of their first game. While spellcasting itself is pretty much an intermediate skill level thing except for a handful of spells, a primer explanation on how to build a spell with phemes might be helpful.

 

Clique building in the early part of the game is something I'd double highlight to someone new to the game even if they only plan on maintaining a small clique. Hermit runs, while easily doable, just miss out on quick and easy boni;-).

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And updated again.

 

[big-'ol-post 2: Electric Boogaloo]

I personally don't find CoS overly useful, at least not the tiny amount I can amass during Character Creation. Or maybe I just don't know it's useful. The game doesn't exactly clarify whether a roll succeeded on CoS or not. Incidentally, yes, having a professor at a high relationship gives a slight chance that they'll overlook a breach of school rules on your part and not assign you Detention on a reprimand.

 

I wasn't aware location passives worked like that, actually. I thought they worked the same as items in that regard - equip an item that raises an unknown skill reveals the skill, but unless you actually put a point in it than removing the item later hides the skill again. I recall it working like that, anyway. Was a while ago, though.

 

It's true that getting Observation unlocked isn't hard if you know what you're doing, but...newcomers might not. It's also to underline the fact that, yes, this skill is a Big Deal, get this skill. Might have to make a point of that too, actually, outline a few skills that are worth going out of your way for. I also vaguely recall once being in some kind of nightmare game where I couldn't get Observation unlocked for the life of me until like mid-Cheimare. Or was that Theory of Incantation? Those old playthroughs of mine blur together more badly than Daggerfall dungeons, I swear.

 

Eh, possibly good points on the spells/Phemes and Clique building thing. I might do another update later, but after the past eight hours or so I'm due for a bit of a break.

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It's true that getting Observation unlocked isn't hard if you know what you're doing, but...newcomers might not. It's also to underline the fact that, yes, this skill is a Big Deal, get this skill. Might have to make a point of that too, actually, outline a few skills that are worth going out of your way for. I also vaguely recall once being in some kind of nightmare game where I couldn't get Observation unlocked for the life of me until like mid-Cheimare. Or was that Theory of Incantation? Those old playthroughs of mine blur together more badly than Daggerfall dungeons, I swear.

 

I seem to remember Theory of Incantation giving me trouble as well at times. Observation is just so common in a lot of adventures that I can't see how it would be hard to be informed of it by the early game (just do an adventure and fail the roll...assuming it doesn't end the adventure).

 

On CoS, yeah the mechanics are fairly opaque, but iirc I monkeyed around with it somewhere between DLC 14-15 by doing one run with as many global percentile increases as I could and one without. The one without just seemed a bit harder to get off the ground and I suspect they're more valuable as your attributes and skills get into the teens and twenties range (outpacing the bonus from a flat +1 or 2). Granted it could have just been worse luck on the one without and the CoS %+ increase doesn't work well but I suspect it does;-).

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Ah, there's the rub, I wouldn't spend a turn knowingly failing an adventure just to unlock a skill, even if it is Observation. Heck, even Planning I wouldn't do it for these days. I can just fail Oan's Insects investigation and get Planning that way, doesn't even cost me a turn to do that. REs are fair game, though.

 

I, frankly, have to imagine some amount of luck got involved there. As far as I remember the only global CoS boost is from Comets, and that's just 2%. Sure, you can crank up Social stuff and I think Academic type stuff as well a bit, but that really doesn't help come adventures. Well, not directly. High Social CoS combined with The Great Hall might get you an additional Clique member a bit earlier, but I wouldn't go out of my way at CC just for that. I'd rather pick Discoveries: Libraries and just train up Befriend a bit in either the Mantle of Stars or the Manetele. Or even better-that's something I completely forgot, Stress Bonus! Going to have to remember that for the Clique section.

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Updated with an important ingame function that, per usual, the game utterly fails to mention at any point.

 

Incidentally, Legate, thy needs to check thine PMs.

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'Nother update. I'll finish up the last parts of it once I'm no longer tired of looking into something for about five hours or so...

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Like you can get tired of anything Mr. big poster! ;)

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Dinner and 'bout three and a half hours later, have another update. So yes, I resemble that remark.

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Only a small update today (so far). I think I've got most things covered by now, though I'm sure I'm missing at least one or two more points...

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Only a small update today (so far). I think I've got most things covered by now, though I'm sure I'm missing at least one or two more points...

 

I don't think I saw a mention of detention and how to avoid it or get out of it. It's a bit inter-related with skipping classes as well, and considering this a time management game, a basic strategy guide on how to avoid the drags (or fix them) concerning stress, vitality, or bullying issues might be helpful.

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Detention and how to escape it is mentioned under Random Events, since that's one of the possible negative effects that a failed RE can have, but I'll admit that's not the most intuitive place for it. Especially considering the shenanigans that exam months bring to the table, perhaps a dedicated section on it and class skipping might not be a bad idea.

 

As for the rest, though, I can't think of much to say about that. Stress and loss of vitality just happen, usually because of 100% uncontrollable REs, so there'll be times you'll just have to Rest. It's not like raising your Stress Max really helps with that, since Emotions trigger based on flat numbers, not percentages. Higher Vitality I guess might help drag out a string of misfortune, but in my experience you burn through Stress more quickly than Vitality. As for bullies, well, keep their relationship topped up. If the point is to inform people how to deal with bullies in a time efficient manner that's pretty much the only advice I have to give, since Duelling them or Demeaning their attention away eats far more turns that you'd spend on getting their relationship back above 0 whenever they target you over the course of an average year.

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I just want to say, fantastic work Metis. I actually didn't know about Elation. Maybe I ought to look into Emotions more.

Actually, if I could request a topic, could you maybe do a section on Locations? I know about The Great Hall, but other than that one I'm pretty clueless. Really, I only utilize them through Abilities.

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In terms of locations with a passive bonus to them I only use The Great Hall, the Garden Gallery (+2 Social Rolls, +1 Gossip - great for Befriend since it's a social roll) and Durand's Prayer Grove (+2 Piety and some other stuff that pretends to be relevant) myself. Sad to say but, as far as I know, in terms of passives most locations aren't worth mentioning.

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Ah, well that's a shame. Thank you for the recommendations. How does the Gallery stack up against the Great Hall, in your experience? Also, have you considered publishing this as a steam guide?

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