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I'm just curious what the best way to start your character is?
That depends on the build you want, of course (Arcanum characters are fairly adaptable, but there are skill requirements for certain quests). Here's what I use for a social-oriented mage:
WP 9 <- need to raise to 18 eventually, boosters are very rare
CH 9 <- need to raise to 20 eventually, boosters are a dime a dozen; gets me a heavy-hitter npc to help with a tough battle; 12 is a requirement for Persuasion Expert (extra follower)
Disarm <- will need to get Unlocking Cantrip (Conveyance 2) first priority and Teleport (Conveyance 5) eventually
Purity of Water <- social buff, stack for maximum effect
Harm <- cheesy combat spell

The next two next points that round out the "starting build" go to Conveyance 2 and Persuasion 1.

If I want to have an evil alignment, I get Sold Your Soul. Unfortunately, until a certain point Arcanum doesn't do Evil all that well, with the result that if you behave like an intelligent and utterly selfish (except the "go on with the main quest" bit) person, you'll end up being Good. Sold Your Soul caps alignment at -20.
The best possible starting build is a melee type. I honestly don't like playing melee anymore because it is just so easy.

The easiest devastating character is a male half ogre with raised in the circus background, who gets dex to 12 and 3 levels in melee (with maybe some dodge), then maxes out str, then maxes out dex, then finishes maxing melee and dodge skills.

This is because half ogres receive an amazing bonus to strength and +10% innate damage resistance. Melee fighters are incredibly favored in this game. Magic can do extremely well too, as can gunslingers and other types, but melee is by far the easiest to just become insanely overpowering.


In reality, if a newer player needed to start with the best easiest starting build, you should actually make a Half Orc Male with the background ran with the circus named Kor. From the intro shop, get a staff, and a rapier.

Naming him Kor is very important, because this combination of name/race/sex/background will make the chest at the crash site have very good starting items: Magic Platemail and a Charmed Helmet.

For starting points, put 1 into dex, 2 into melee, 1 into persuasion, and 1 into willpower. At level 2 get the Minor healing spell. With the good armor you have, you don't need to worry about dodge until later, so as you level up just get dex to 12, put 1 more point into melee skill (should have 3 total now) and then max out strength, then focus on maxing dex melee and dodge.

Half Orc is better for completely new players because it allows you to put 1 into persuasion without spending points to raise charisma first (which ogres have to do). This lets you convince the bridge thieves you are from the thieves guild and then you don't have to pay or fight them. It also means you only have to put 1 point in willpower before you can put 1 into minor healing, also unlike half ogres, and that makes things simpler early on.

It's important to know that when int is lower than 5 (like a starting half ogre) then you cannot use anything but dumbed down dialogue, which isn't a good way to go through the game for the first time. You will probably want to spend points to get it to 5. Also half-orcs have low beauty, which will make a lot of people hate you in conversation, and you'll usually have to apologize many times at the start of dialogue just to make people like you enough to really talk to you.

A good trick is also to put 2 into the electrician tech discipline, and craft 2 charged rings, which gets you a +4 dex for only 2 character points, as long as you wear the rings. You can find the parts in Shrouded Hills if you look hard enough, but they are also easily purchased in Tarant shops (for about 70g per ring total or something super cheap). Similarly, if you get the Agility of Fire spell or Strength of Earth spell for 1 point, you can raise your dex or str as long as you cast those spells before battle (but it's a hassle).

If you don't want the very best possible starting build, you could also make a wizard style male elf with sold your soul background and get the spell Harm from necromantic, which will rip through most weaker enemies.
Post edited September 15, 2012 by ewmarch
Easiest all around from a starting point is generally a human or half orc with skill points equally divided between melee and dodge, with no special background.
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ewmarch: The best possible starting build is a melee type. I honestly don't like playing melee anymore because it is just so easy.

The easiest devastating character is a male half ogre with raised in the circus background, who gets dex to 12 and 3 levels in melee (with maybe some dodge), then maxes out str, then maxes out dex, then finishes maxing melee and dodge skills.

This is because half ogres receive an amazing bonus to strength and +10% innate damage resistance. Melee fighters are incredibly favored in this game. Magic can do extremely well too, as can gunslingers and other types, but melee is by far the easiest to just become insanely overpowering.


In reality, if a newer player needed to start with the best easiest starting build, you should actually make a Half Orc Male with the background ran with the circus named Kor. From the intro shop, get a staff, and a rapier.

Naming him Kor is very important, because this combination of name/race/sex/background will make the chest at the crash site have very good starting items: Magic Platemail and a Charmed Helmet.

For starting points, put 1 into dex, 2 into melee, 1 into persuasion, and 1 into willpower. At level 2 get the Minor healing spell. With the good armor you have, you don't need to worry about dodge until later, so as you level up just get dex to 12, put 1 more point into melee skill (should have 3 total now) and then max out strength, then focus on maxing dex melee and dodge.

Half Orc is better for completely new players because it allows you to put 1 into persuasion without spending points to raise charisma first (which ogres have to do). This lets you convince the bridge thieves you are from the thieves guild and then you don't have to pay or fight them. It also means you only have to put 1 point in willpower before you can put 1 into minor healing, also unlike half ogres, and that makes things simpler early on.

It's important to know that when int is lower than 5 (like a starting half ogre) then you cannot use anything but dumbed down dialogue, which isn't a good way to go through the game for the first time. You will probably want to spend points to get it to 5. Also half-orcs have low beauty, which will make a lot of people hate you in conversation, and you'll usually have to apologize many times at the start of dialogue just to make people like you enough to really talk to you.

A good trick is also to put 2 into the electrician tech discipline, and craft 2 charged rings, which gets you a +4 dex for only 2 character points, as long as you wear the rings. You can find the parts in Shrouded Hills if you look hard enough, but they are also easily purchased in Tarant shops (for about 70g per ring total or something super cheap). Similarly, if you get the Agility of Fire spell or Strength of Earth spell for 1 point, you can raise your dex or str as long as you cast those spells before battle (but it's a hassle).

If you don't want the very best possible starting build, you could also make a wizard style male elf with sold your soul background and get the spell Harm from necromantic, which will rip through most weaker enemies.
This was ABSOLUTELY epic!! Thank you!! My half-orc Kor is having lots of fun. My first playthrough of the game, but I really don't have time in RL for a slow game like this, because I want to finish my BG2 replay as well, since the last time I played that was in 2000.

This works great! I would only add for newbies that you should not forget to APPRENTICE from NPCs around cities. For example even though you spend 3 pts in Melee, you actually still need to apprentice/master/expert in the skill because that makes you infinitely better. Getting apprentice in melee for example, gives you +5 speed. And that's only for 118 gp!
Yeah it's pretty ungodly easy with those starting items. It makes the BMC seem like any other dungeon.

I must warn anyone reading this that melee is so easy in Arcanum that it makes everything boring.
Post edited December 02, 2012 by ewmarch
I never realized that names will have an effect on your character. I thought placement of items were mostly random.
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SpaceMadness: I never realized that names will have an effect on your character. I thought placement of items were mostly random.
I'm not sure if it's important but I'm playing a female half-elf blade-thrower and actually found the exact magical plate mail and charmed helmet in the crash site chest like ewmarch said above.

Anyway, I was told by my friend that throwing build is very very good albeit uncommon and not so cool looking. So I tried it on my second playthrough and it's really fun and not tough at all.

Here's my starting stats if i'm not mistaken
Female Half-Elf ; Professional Knife Thrower background
STR 7
CON 8
DEX 9
BEA 9
WP 8
PER 7
CHA 8

Increased throwing skills. Bought a boomerang for starter weapon.
I continued to max my dexterity and allocate another points as I preferred.

I found out throwing is very effective on any range (even point blank) although the power is not as large as melee fighter, but she can defeat many higher levels monsters from far faaaaar away especially with the Azram's Star weapon. Though they said perception is important for range, I didn't find any range problem at all. Moreover, with high dexterity, you can attack tons of time before the enemy gets close and you use no ammo at all!
Post edited December 06, 2012 by foxthirteen
ive been trying a new game with a half-elf female who is totally devoid of any skills at all other than persuasion, whos only positive attributes are extremely high beauty and charisma, who relies on a huge group of followers to kill people. definitely the most difficult character ive made
Arcanum can be played pretty much any way you want, and that's a big part of its endless appeal. Someone did a pacifist playthrough and got all the way to the castle compound in the Void before finding out there's no way to open the gates without killing the guards.

As far as throwing goes, crafting molotov cocktails is a great way to get easy aoe damage for throwing chars. You can work your way up to concussion/electrocution grenades if you want.
Post edited December 06, 2012 by ewmarch
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Marrik: ive been trying a new game with a half-elf female who is totally devoid of any skills at all other than persuasion, whos only positive attributes are extremely high beauty and charisma, who relies on a huge group of followers to kill people. definitely the most difficult character ive made
I play a similar char right now.
Female half elf debutantee with maxx charisma, persuation, intelligence and beauty.
And some buff spells.
Only the starting area was hard. After getting to tarant it is very easy.
The BMC mines (really annoying last time) are a joke, when you have 5 followers (+dog) and each one is equipped with a pyro axe. Just point at any enemy and your friends will one hit them. Buffing their dex and str makes this even more simple. Let Magnus make the light axe and get some manuals at the university.

For the starting area, it was almost like this:
http://www.gog.com/forum/arcanum_of_steamworks_and_magick_obscura/most_pathetic_fight_ever
so you should get sogg soon.

off topic: Why does Gar not equip nny body armor? (helmet, gloves etc he does)
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Mad3: off topic: Why does Gar not equip nny body armor? (helmet, gloves etc he does)
AFAIK Gar can equip only dread/barbarian and plate armours.

EDIT: medium sized, obviously.
Post edited December 07, 2012 by Kerebron
When soloing, my favorite build is a gnome with the knife tosser background: one point in DX and two in Throwing, and I literally hit the ground running. (Be sure to purchase the boomerang from the shopkeeper.)

By the time my PC is level four and on his way to Shrouded Hills, I've added two points to CN (to bring it up to 8), the spells Minor Healing and Shield of Protection, and two points to Haggle. Expertise in Haggle means he can sell anything to anyone, so money is no longer an issue; in fact, I power-shop the mystical chakram from the wise woman right before tackling the thieves at the bridge. (I like to betray them, right after we strike a bargain; no honor among thieves, after all.)

Because my PC specializes in Throwing, I need never put a point into ST (or PE); this lets me pump up his DX early, making him a crack shot by the time he reaches Dernholm.

You can create a similar build with an elf or half-elf; but you'll have to pump a few more points into WP and Haggle to qualify for expertise before you leave Shrouded Hills.

Warning: this build makes soloing ridiculously easy, especially in turn-based mode.
Post edited February 12, 2013 by TwoHandedSword
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TwoHandedSword: When soloing, my favorite build is a gnome with the knife tosser background: one point in DX and two in Throwing, and I literally hit the ground running. (Be sure to purchase the boomerang from the shopkeeper.)

By the time my PC is level four and on his way to Shrouded Hills, I've added two points to CN (to bring it up to 8), the spells Minor Healing and Shield of Protection, and two points to Haggle. Expertise in Haggle means he can sell anything to anyone, so money is no longer an issue; in fact, I power-shop the mystical chakram from the wise woman right before tackling the thieves at the bridge. (I like to betray them, right after we strike a bargain; no honor among thieves, after all.)

Because my PC specializes in Throwing, I need never put a point into ST (or PE); this lets me pump up his DX early, making him a crack shot by the time he reaches Dernholm.

You can create a similar build with an elf or half-elf; but you'll have to pump a few more points into WP and Haggle to qualify for expertise before you leave Shrouded Hills.

Warning: this build makes soloing ridiculously easy, especially in turn-based mode.
I've been meaning to try Throwing for a while, so I'll probably try out this build. Any thoughts on replacing the Magic with Tech so you can build explosives?
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Gazoinks: I've been meaning to try Throwing for a while, so I'll probably try out this build. Any thoughts on replacing the Magic with Tech so you can build explosives?
You know, I'm ashamed to admit I never considered that before now. I've always gone magic with this build, in order to unlock the full potential of Azram's Star.

But a tech build has some serious possibilities. Repair expertise would mean that he could wear the same leather armour forever, and even Gnomish chainmail would only lose one HP per repair. Then he could climb the Explosives college, with possibly a few ranks in Herbology (or adding Jayna as a follower), Electrical (or Sebastian, for charged rings), and maybe even Chemistry (to make use of the Fuel schematic).

The more I think about this, the more I want to try it. Thank you for sharing the idea.