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Just picked this up from the sale and I have a few questions.

1. Is there no music or sound effects in the game? The beginning has voice work but once I get thrown into the Abyss, there is no sound at all. It makes things less immersive.

2. Do weapons and armor even have stats? How do I know if this hand axe is better than this dagger or sword?

It's taking me a bit to get used to the controls as I'm not a PC gamer who is used to moving with WASD etc. I think using the keyboard for combat instead of the mouse is easier for me and learning to play as much on keyboard as possible is my plan.

That's it for now. Thanks to anyone who replies.
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There is music and sound, but due to the default settings being for Roland cards, it takes some doing to get it working if you don't have Roland emulation. There are a few threads about this if you run a forum search.

They have stats. The clue book has a chart, but one standard principle is that, unless the item has an enchantment, a short sword is the same as any other short sword. There isn't a "level 1 short sword" and a "level 2 short sword" that is simply a better version of the other. Durability may modify the current effectiveness, of course.

Generally, a heavier weapon of the same category (swords, axes, maces, etc) will deal more damage at full wind-up but takes proportionally longer to wind up. Normally it's better to have heavier if slower swings because they won't lose as much to enemy armor values, but a fast weapon with a damaging enchantment like Fire Doom might be stronger since it will trigger more frequently. (Warning: Don't try using something like Fire Doom unless you're fireproof yourself!)

A combination of keyboard for movement and mouse for in-world manipulation is generally easiest, yes.
Some advice: make sure your character has a decent level in lore, or else you won't be able to tell an enchanted item apart from a regular one one. That happened to me in my first playthrough and I was wondering where all the magic items were. Of course you can beat the game just fine without lore, but it's better with.

As for the controls, look up "default mode" in the manual. I use the keyboard to move around and the mouse to interact. Default mode let's you use the mouse for anything by having different motions. For example, right-dragging on a person will talk that person, right-dragging on a switch will activate the switch and right-dragging on an item will pick that item up. You won't need the icons on the left-hand side of the screen at all.
Personally I used only the mouse when playing UU, and I think it worked very well. But I think I'm in the minority.

Also, Strength is by far the most important stat as it governs how much you can carry. Being over uncumbered is a drag, especially if you have to ditch that nice suit of plate armour for something lighter.
You may want to aim to get as close to 30 STR as possible. It's not possible with all classed though, but Fighter, Paladins and Druids at least have high STR.
Sorcery: 2. Do weapons and armor even have stats? How do I know if this hand axe is better than this dagger or sword?
Weapons do indeed have stats, but as did happen in the 80s and 90s, they don't bother telling you. Maybe it's in the manual or clue book, I don't know. This chart, although for Ultima Underworld 2, probably has at least some of the same weapons. There might be minor spoilers.

I'm not sure exactly how weapon condition fits in, but I'm pretty sure that a deteriorated weapon does less damage.
Thank you everyone for the replies, it has been helpful. I have a couple more questions now.

Just as a side note to my question about sound and music, in Underworld 2 I hear my footsteps so my guess is that I won't need to do any tinkering with it.

Could someone suggest me a build? I thought maybe as a beginner I should play as a fighter but I like rangers and druids from playing DnD. Which class should I pick and how should I spend my skill points? I would like to have good lore skill so I can identify magical items.
Druid is an excellent class. They can have max (30) Str and their second best stat is usually Int. Dex is the least useful stat in the UU games, since the skills depending on it are mostly useless. Might and Magic rules - in that order -, while Stealth is not well implemented.

Druids also get a decent Lore skill, so they are IMO the obvious choice, at least in UU1. In UU2 the encumbrance is not such a big problem, so high Str is not as important as in UU1.

BTW, I think you can pay for repairs and ID'ing of items in UU2, so the Lore skill is not that important either.
Most important skills is Attack, Defend and a weapon skill (Sword being the obvious choice), as well as Mana and Casting. There is also a spell to ID items as well as wands with that spell, so you are not as dependent on your own utility skills in UU2, but can concentrate on the survival skills.
Post edited August 26, 2014 by PetrusOctavianus
The only thing the classes really do is give you your starting stats and skills. Druid is probably the best class in UU1, and Paladin is even better in UU2. The thing to watch out for is: these games do allow you to make a useless starting character. If you start with no skill in Attack, Defend, or a weapon of some kind, it will be virtually impossible to get anywhere, since the bulk of the exp is from combat. Low strength will also be a problem, as stats will never increase once the game begins.
Another tip: pay close attention to how much your skills increase while training. Some trainers are better teachers than others.
The "classes" are thematic templates that set the initial ranges and choices for your stats and skills, but they don't have any impact beyond that. The character's stats/skills are what actually count for gameplay purposes.

Strength is generally the favored stat and Dexterity the least so. You can go with thematic builds (Acrobatic attacker; Magic purist, etc), that involve other priorities, but that's not recommended for a first playthrough since you really need to know the systems (and situations) to make good use of them.

Attack, Defense, Lore, Casting, and Magic are "core" skills for any character (unless, again, you're going for a thematic build), along with a single melee weapon type. Due to the nature of weapon skills, it's much better to focus on a single weapon and become highly skilled with it than to try to be moderately capable with many different types. Of note, Attack has the least impact of the combat skills and once your training returns for it start to fall off, it's best to focus on Defense and the weapon skill instead.

Other skills have utility or support effects and CAN be useful, but most of them require an all-in approach to stay relevant throughout the game, and you're unlikely to have enough skill points to spend on more than one of them, so if you want a skill like Repair, don't spread points around to Search, Barter, Lockpicking, and so on as well.

The two small exceptions to that are Acrobatics and Swimming: a few points in each of those will save any character a lot of hassle (and incidental damage).