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Hello - I have played around a bit in MM6 and read through some guides and walkthroughs. I am thinking about starting a custom build, very similar to the default party, as follows:

Paladin:
M23 I5 P12 E15 A16 S10 L5 Total 86
Sword (No Choice about this - It will be dumped for Axe)
Spirit
Chain (Dump this skill for Axe if going to Ironfist on January 1)
Shield
(Plate, Shield, Axe)
(Merchant and maybe Diplomat)

Archer:
M12 I12 P5 E15 A21 S16 L5 Total 86
Bow
Air
Fire
Sword (No shield, so the choices are dual wield Daggers, dual wield Swords, or 2H wield Spear)
(Chain, Dual Wield Sword)
(Repair and Disarm)

Cleric:
M10 I7 P21 E15 A10 S10 L12 Total 85
Mace
Body
Mind
Spirit
(Chain, Shield, Mace)
(Perception)

Sorcerer:
M10 I21 P7 E15 A11 S12 L9 Total 85
Dagger
Fire
Water
Earth
(Leather, Dual Wield Daggers)
(Identify)

One start would be to go to Ironfist and pick up armor skills, armor, and bow, then go to Misty Islands and pick up learning skill, then return to New Sorpigal and clean up now that everybody starts with a bow. The alternative is to stay in New Sorpigal, clear up Goblinwatch, level to 4, clear up the Abandoned Temple, then go to Ironfist and Misty Islands. I think the difference amounts to a few days in the calendar.

The next part of the plan is to complete the Pilgrimage of Might. The attributes are chosen to visit the Fountains of Luck, Speed, Accuracy, Might, Personality, and Intelligence, then visit the Altar of Might before the end of January. Essences will be used after reaching 15 in an Attribute.

One NPC will be a Banker, the other NPC will be a Merchant. Lots of gold is needed. The Merchant may be switched out possibly for an Explorer (Sailor, Guide) if travel times appear to be critical, and more likely for a Gate Keeper to more easily get to Silver Cove and Free Haven.

Testing this out, I have not been able to find the ship going to Silver Cove, or the Coach going to Free Haven, and I have checked the travel schedules.

Any feedback and further advice? Would switching out the Paladin and Archer for a Knight and Druid be a good idea?
Paladin, Archer, Druid, Sorcerer

dump the Cleric for the Druid - this is only good in MM6. Having 3 characters casting elemental magics is fantastic in early mid and late game. you really don't need two characters with light and dark. In MM7 and 8 you will want a Cleric as they nerfed the druid.

definitely would keep the Paladin over the Knight. The Paladin gets all the offense of the Knight, less hp but he becomes your second healer and can also do offensive magic to the stuff that can't be hurt by weapons (where your Knight just stands there). Having the second healer is so nice when you get the dead status which can't be cured by resting but can with magic.
Paladin still worthwhile in MM7 but the Knight got a bit better. In MM8 you have 5 characters so you take a Knight and a Vampire (what they replaced Paladin with).

as for the weapons, you'll want Paladin with a Sword in left hand then a spear in right hand. archer gets sword in left and axe in right. this is important because your weapon skill comes from both skills. ie if you have 10 points in sword and 10 in spear and have both equipped, you get +20 damage/chance to hit from your skill. if you had 2 swords equipped its still only +10.

druid and sorcerer both dual wield daggers. it's getting late - my brain has me thinking druid might be able to go mace in right instead... either way get expert dagger for both druid and sorcerer for some dual wielding.

money is super tight in this game. you will want everyone to get up to master merchant (yes the level ups get THAT expensive). make sure you pump water and air magic on the asap - for travel spells like fly and town portal, and for the best way to make money...
- enchant item. buy armor min value 450, or weapon min value 250, cast enchant item on it, sell it back to the vendor. if your merchant skill is decent you can make a hefty profit. eventually you can buy and sell and cost.
Post edited February 13, 2013 by thekinger
Druids are too powerful in MM6 in my opinion. I agree they were weakened a little too much in MM7--and it's just sad they aren't included in MM8--but with a druid in MM6 you don't really need a cleric or a sorcerer ever expect for light and dark magic. Between the two, light magic is much more useful, and it's especially nice to play the whole game through without ever "being evil", should you try to be good. You have to do evil, and get your reputation to "notorious", to master dark magic, and the offense it has isn't that much greater than the elemental spells.

I really like the way you made your plans and wrote the character info here. I'd say it's best to go to Ironfist right away, then to make your way west in search of Kilburn's Shield and a maiden in distress. Without giving away anything, in Free Haven you can do some nice things even at 1st level, and while you won't be tough enough to fight most things you come across, you can run past them enough to stay alive and really it adds to the realism because most enemies come in big groups, and you should have to run from them.

Once you travel around a lot, you will collect a list of quests, and you'll get a sense of the whole game and its many opportunities. The hirelings you get can make a big difference. A Gate Master lets you teleport between towns, and a Scholar lets you identity everything for free and adds to your experience.
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thekinger: Paladin, Archer, Druid, Sorcerer

dump the Cleric for the Druid - this is only good in MM6. Having 3 characters casting elemental magics is fantastic in early mid and late game.
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Larias: I really like the way you made your plans and wrote the character info here.
I sat down and figured out how to get the most use of the the Fountains and still make it to Bootleg Bay for the Pilgrimage of Might by the end of January.

Thanks for the feedback. The Paladin got tweaked a little bit, reducing Might to 21 and increasing Speed to 11. I will dump the Cleric for the Druid as advised, but I am not dumping Serena. ;)

Druid
M10 I16 P16 E15 A10 S10 L9 Total 86

It looks like the consequence is losing chain for leather and losing Dark in exchange for another Elemental. The druid can wield a mace.

Paladin - Sword / Spear
Archer - Sword / Axe
Druid - Dagger / Mace
Sorcerer - Dagger / Dagger

Question: Does this mean I have no real need for Shield Skill?

Another Question: How do I get from Misty Islands to Silver Cove without hiring a Gate Master? I have not had much luck finding the boat that goes there. The same holds for finding the stage coach going from Castle Ironfist to Free Haven.
Post edited February 18, 2013 by KHHill91
"Another Question: How do I get from Misty Islands to Silver Cove without hiring a Gate Master? I have not had much luck finding the boat that goes there. The same holds for finding the stage coach going from Castle Ironfist to Free Haven.

You can take the boat from Misty Islands to Silver Cove on Monday & Thursday.

In Castle Ironfist, the coach goes to Free Haven on Tuesday and Saturday.
Post edited February 19, 2013 by Foucter
According to the strategy guide, you're not supposed to be able to get to Silver Cove or Free Haven before walking there. However, it's only worked for Free Haven. You still get a twinkle when you walk to Silver Cove, but you can get there by ship or coach once you've reached Free Haven.
With respect to whether you need a shield at all, I think the way to go is to have everyone who can get at least 5 or 6 ranks in shields, and use them whenever you think you could use them. Given that you're playing with three elemental spell-casters, you also don't need to have two weapons in use at once because you'll be casting spells. The druid or the paladin in your group can be designated as the main healer, and these two should both use shields when in tough fights or when facing many attackers of less strength.

There is no answer for which starting group is "best". It's just a matter of what you want.