The Dungeon Siege Series has three distinctive attributes, which are shaped through the skills that the player chooses to emphasize, Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence. The best way to level up these skills is to use the weapons with the most affinity towards them.
Players are also not restricted to leveling up a single skill in one play through. Dungeon Siege freely lets players change their weapons and armor at any given time provided they have the minimum stats available in order to use the new equipment and weapons.
Levelling up the different skills will also change the inherent character title that the player has, found directly beneath their name in the stats menu.
"You mercs won't survive the night, but you may make it till sundown if you pay attention. You'll only gain experience in a class by fighting with its associated weapon type. If you fight with a melee weapon, you will gain melee experience and if you fight with a Combat Magic spell, you'll gain Combat Magic experience. It doesn't get any simpler than that." - Morden Soldier
The greater the strength that a player has, the greater the damage added to their minimum and maximum Melee weapon damage. Strength also has the greatest impact upon a players Health Reserve, both increasing their maximum health and also increasing their health regeneration.
Most weapons and armor have a minimum Strength requirement in order to be equipped but never have a melee skill requirement. The most effective way for a player to level up their strength is to use melee weapons and level their Melee Skill.
The higher a characters Dexterity, the higher the damage bonus added to their armor rating. Dexterity also plays a factor in the accuracy of a players ranged weapons and their chance of hitting with a melee weapon (Though Ranged Skill has a much higher effect on this). Dexterity also has an effect on a players maximum Health reserve, though not nearly as much as Strength.
Most bows have a minimum Dexterity requirement but never have a minimum Ranged requirement. Some armor is also attuned for ranged users and as such also has a higher Dexterity than Strength requirement.
The best way to level up Dexterity is to use Ranged weapons such as Bows and Crossbows. In Dungeon Siege II, players can also utilize throwing knives.
The greater your characters Intelligence, the greater your Maximum Mana and Mana regeneration. Intelligence also has a minimal affect on a players maximum Health (But not even half the amount that Strength does). Intelligence also has a small affect on your Ranged and Melee weapons accuracy (But not nearly as much as Dexterity)
Most magic related staves and clothing carries a minimum Intelligence requirement. However Magic spells have their own skill class requirement. Intelligence related items are considered most unique from the other classes as requirements from Strength and Dexterity are few and far between. Intelligence is also a requirement for more powerful Spells books that have unique enchantments.
The most effective way to level up a players intelligence is to use Magic Spells from the Nature and Combat Magic schools.
In the Dungeon Siege series, a players Melee Skill has the primary effect on their ability to survive in hand-to-hand combat. The traditional fighter uses melee weapons ranging from small knives to Maces right up to massive two-handed Swords.
Levelling up the Melee Skill is only possible in hand-to-hand combat as opposed to Ranged attacks and using Magic. Concentrating on the Melee skill will increase mostly increase your Strength, have a slight increase on Dexterity (Increasing your Armor Rating) and a minimal effect on Intelligence.
The Melee Skill has the largest impact on base damage as opposed to the other skill trees and when coupled with the Strength Attribute, has a significant impact on a characters combat abilities.
Unlike the other skill trees, becoming an effective Melee Fighter requires long-term hard dedication as the strongest Melee Weapons and Strength based armor have very high minimum requirements.
Melee Skill Advantages
A character with the Melee Skill has several advantages over other characters:
- Large Selection of Armor, Weapons and Shields.
Improving your characters strength through the Melee Skill unlocks the strongest weapons and armor available in the Dungeon Siege Universe.
- Increased Durability.
A Melee based fighter is far more durable than an Archer or Mage for two reasons: The characters high Strength attribute gives them access to the best armor and weapons and also gives them a high defense rating and attack, allowing them to very easily take on the toughest foes in close combat in the game for longer periods of time.
- Less need for Mana.
A character who purely invests in the Melee Skill has no need for Mana potions, as there are no Spells affected by the Melee Skill. As such, the player can focus their inventory on having more Health Potions to allow them to last longer in a fight.
- Can offset weakness to ranged attacks with low level Combat and Nature Magic Spells as well as low level bows.
It is far easier for a Melee skilled character to offset their weaknesses to ranged attacks with low level bows and spells than it is for a Mage or Archer to offset their weakness to hand-to-hand combat. Even weak bows and magic can help soften up enemies before going in for a kill at close quarters.
Melee Skill Disadvantages
- A heavy requirement to meet Strength Requirements.
The absolute strongest Weapons and Armor in the Dungeon Siege Universe carry extremely high Strength requirements which can require extreme dedication to the Melee Skill in order to acquire. Players who do not meet these requirements will have a much tougher time in the game with combat in close encounters. If Melee fighters are being supported by Archers and Mages, the Fighters should be taking most of the blows in order to level up their Melee Skill as efficiently as possible.
- Fewer options against enemy ranged units.
Melee Fighters are stuck with being forced to engage enemies at close range. Without low level bows or spells, a Melee Fighter will have a hard time dealing with ranged enemies. It is best for a Melee Fighter to get in close and kill ranged units before their Melee escorts can enter the fight and do much damage.
- No Area Of Effect damage.
Even with large, two handed weapons, Melee Fighters are forced to damage one enemy at a time with their weapons. As such, when facing groups of enemies, Fighters should focus on taking down the weakest enemies in groups that they engage.
Supporting Melee Characters
A Melee character is best supported with characters dedicated to the Ranged or Magic skills. Characters that can engage enemies at range can weaken incoming groups of monsters while Melee Fighters can hack and slash through the softened up monsters. Remember that there is no friendly fire in the Dungeon Siege Universe so even Area of Effect Spells can be helpful.
Groups of tough monsters pose the greatest threat to a Melee skilled character. Without area-effect damage, they are forced to engage monsters one at a time, even if it means being struck by multiple enemies as once. Using ranged characters and magic users to bring down extras in a group or even just weaken them can significantly aid Melee fighters while their in or just before they enter the fight.
In the Dungeon Siege series, the Ranged Skill allows characters to use Bows and Crossbows to engage enemies at a safe distance. Unless a character is battling ranged foes, it is very possible for them to kill their targets before they themselves are struck.
Ranged Characters focusing their Ranged Skill will have the greatest impact on their Dexterity, which provides the greatest armor bonus modifier in the game. It also has the greatest impact upon the characters accuracy with bows. Focusing on the Ranged Skill also has an impact on the Strength Attribute to a lesser degree and a very small impact on Intelligence.
The most effective use of Ranged Weapons under the Ranged Skill tree is guerrilla tactics; attacking an enemy at range and then retreating when they get in close to attack. This is more effective against slow moving targets than fast ones. It is more ideal to distract fast moving targets with Melee Fighters and have Archers focus on supporting the Fighters.
The Ranged skill also works significantly well in conjunction with the Melee Skill. When a Ranger character has engaged an enemy at range till the foe is now in close, they can easily switch to a Melee weapon to finish them off. The only downside in this is a lesser increase to the Ranged Skill than if the character were a pure Archer.
Ranged Skill Advantages
- Can weaken or kill enemies from a long range.
The ability to engage and defeat enemies at long range is an Archers greatest strength. They can remain at a safe distance while picking off targets. Melee Skill characters can then mop up any remaining enemies which means Ranged skill users need to worry less about their health and more about focusing the best of their damage on tougher enemies.
- Can combine long range assaults with guerrilla tactics.
Sluggish enemies, especially those that must navigate around obstacles, are extremely vulnerable to the Range skilled characters. Do as much damage as you can until they get close, then retreat to a safe distance and attack again.
- Can use powerful Ranged Weapons with excellent stopping power.
High level Bows have the greatest range over any other weapon, including magic. However they also have an extremely good variation in damage potential, range and attack speed. High level enchanted bows are also more likely to carry enchantments that freeze or stun enemies than Melee weapons or the majority of spells.
- Minimal need for Mana.
Firing a Ranged Weapon such as a Bow or Crossbow means that an Archer has less of a need for Mana than Melee Fighters do. Where Melee Fighters may be forced to use Magic in order to heal themselves, Ranged characters can safely engage at a distance with only a small chance at engaging foes. It is unlikely that a Ranged character will have need for the offensive power of Nature and Combat Magic.
Ranged Skill Disadvantages
- Weak against groups of enemies.
In the same way that Melee Fighters can struggle against hordes of enemies, Archers are very much stuck in the same problem. Archers can only target and fire against one foe at a time. Although they may attack and kill a foe before they are reached by it, said foe could be supported by other infantry and as such, they will be forced to retreat, time which could be more valuable if used on attacking foes otherwise distracted.
- Requires support against ranged enemies.
Since guerrilla tactics are useless against ranged enemies, Archers require significant support from others when engaging groups of ranged enemies. As their health reserves are significantly less than Melee Fighters, Archers will not last as long in a fight. Either deal with ranged enemies with close quarters combat, or bring additional Archers and mages.
- Restricted access to the best armor, melee weapons and shields.
As a dedicated Archers Strength will not rise as quickly as a dedicated Melee Fighter, Ranged users are restricted from the best armor, weapons and shields in the game. This can have the affect of making them more vulnerable in combat against foes that have the chance to engage them; at range or with melee weapons.
How to support Ranged Characters
Ranged Skilled characters are best supported by Melee Fighters and Mages that can use area of effect spells. While the archers can weaken incoming enemies, the Melee Fighters can focus killing the remaining foes who get in close. Mages can also buff archers and debuff enemies with spells, allowing archers to either deal more effective damage or have more time to engage enemies before they get in close.
Combat and Nature Magic
The Dungeon Siege Universe has two very distinctive classes of Magic with their own individual strengths and weaknesses, Combat Magic and Nature Magic. Developing these skills requires focus on their own distinctive classes of spells.
Combat Magic has a focus largely in dealing area of effect damage to enemies while also using de-buffs to weaken or temporarily halt them.
Nature Magic works almost inversely by dealing damage with a greater focus against individual enemies and using buffs to strengthen fellow party members and allied characters.
This being said, both classes do have spells that crossover in their usage and effectiveness.
Using Combat and Nature Magic spells will level up the Intelligence attribute the most, with a lesser influence on Dexterity and a very small effect upon Strength. This has the effect of having the greatest impact on their maximum Mana and Mana regeneration, while also providing a small Armor bonus but at the cost of very small boost to their maximum health and health recovery and also reduces options in close quarters combat.
While it is possible to gain experience in both the Combat Magic and Nature magic classes, their experience is limited to spells of the same type. For example, using a Nature Magic spell will not add experience to the Combat Magic Skill. In order to effectively level up both skills, a mage will need to periodically switch spells and use them with equal frequency.
Combat and Nature Magic Skill Advantages
- An extremely diverse and wide array of offensive and defensive spells.
The variety of Combat and Nature spells allows a mage to very quickly and easily approach a situation and work it to their own advantage as opposed to Ranged and Melee skilled characters. When faced with a group of opponents, they can switch to powerful area of effect spells to weaken them all at once. Or when faced with a singular, strong enemy, they can switch to spells to slow them down and use devastating single target spells. Finally, their ability to support a party is also unparalleled, with spells that can easily and quickly restore the health of party members.
- Area Of Effect Damage Potential.
Unlike their Ranged and Melee skilled counterparts, Mages are singular in the fact that they can use spells that have an area of effect attack. Whereas Archers are forced into guerrilla tactics, Mages can use devastating spells that hit all enemies at once, killing or weakening all foes before being forced into hand-to-hand combat. Using spells that effect multiple enemies can also be helpful in conserving mana - as the cost to attack multiple enemies could only be the price of one.
- The ability to assist other party Members.
While Melee and Ranged skilled characters are largely stuck with being supported offensively by friendly characters and party members, Mages can defensively support friendly targets by casting spells on them to increase their health regeneration significantly, increase their armor or even increase their damage all for a short time. Most of these buffs are covered in the Nature Magic skill tree.
Mages also have access to a few spells which can weaken foes by either slowing them down, stopping them entirely or decreasing their damage potential. This is mostly covered by Combat Magic.
- Can remain safe from Hand-to-Hand combat, but also has a few tricks for such events.
By being able to attack from range, Mages have the ability to stay out of the danger of combat and destroying individuals or groups long before they are engaged at close range.
Mages also have the ability to summon powerful creatures to aid them in combat. This can mean that their summon can or will engage in close combat for them while they remain safely out of reach.
However, as of the expansion to Dungeon Siege, Legends of Aranna as well as Dungeon Siege II; Mages now have the unique ability to transform themselves into powerful monsters to engage at close range. When they take too much damage as the transformed creature, they will return to their own original selves, free from the majority of harm inflicted upon their transformation.
Combat and Nature Magic Skill Disadvantages
- Terrible Armor and Health reserves.
For all the destructive power of damage that a mage can wield, this can come at the price of being very weak when attacked. When leveling up, they receive very little bonus to their strength and Dexterity, meaning that they can take very little damage before being knocked unconscious or being killed entirely. Without strength, Mages can use only the most minimal of armor or any good melee weaponry.
- High dependency on Mana.
Without Mana, Combat and Nature Mages cannot cast even the most basic spells. Although Mana does regenerate on it's own, the cost of spells mean that Mages can spend much of combat standing idly by. This makes them dependent on drinking multiple Mana Potions during combat. High level and the more powerful spells should be saved for the more dangerous battles while ranged and melee characters along with lower cost, more conservative spells are saved for for the lighter skirmishes.
- Many Magic items have high intelligence or Skill influenced requirements.
Many magic items such as boots, hats and robes have high intelligence requirements. Thus, the best equipment can come at the cost of requiring decent dedication to the magical arts.
Additionally, while magic skills can have generally lower skill based requirements than Melee or Ranged skilled users rely on their Strength or their Dexterity, these spells level their damage or ability along with levelling, making their true power come to fruition several levels above their basic requirements.
How to support Magic Users
With dedication to the magical arts, characters emphasizing in Combat or Nature magic make significant sacrifices in their Health reserves and their Armor rating. This means they need to be supported either Melee Fighters who can engage at close range or by Archers who can assist in dealing damage to closing enemies.
Mana Potions are rarely in short supply, so as long as a Mage is plenty stocked, they can easily carry their own weight in combat by assisting others with offensive abilities or defensive capabilities.
- Staves are the only melee weapon to begin carrying Intelligence requirements at higher levels. Additionally, while still usable by Mages as melee weapons, their low strength and damage rating can make them almost useless.
- All Melee weapons have an attack speed based on their size. From slowest to fastest, the order is Knives and Daggers, Staves, Swords, Axes, Maces, Two-Handed Axes and then Two-Handed Swords. Two-Handed Swords are almost half the speed of standard swords. Knives are also practically non-existent past the mid-range levels, however Daggers remain significant in Dungeon Siege II.
- The majority of high level monsters as well as mini-bosses have the ability to engage at range and in close combat at the same time. Generally their melee attacks are almost twice at strong as their ranged attack. Some monsters, such as the Giant Spider in the Wesrin Cross, have area of effect melee attacks. It is up to the player to decide best how to engage these foes.
- As experience is affected by hitting an enemy and not killing them, it is very easy to farm experience at later levels by using weak spells or weapons on high level enemies to quickly gain experience and levels. This will have a significant impact on skills but a minimal impact on attributes.
- In Dungeon Siege I, Nature Mages and Combat mages suffer from a slightly reduced experience gain in comparison to the melee and ranged classes, making a noticeable difference in the individuals levels by the end of a single player campaign. This experience error was fixed in Dungeon Siege II.