Part 1 of this guide discussed character archetypes, primary & secondary stat progression and general mechanics. Part 2 analyzed the first 18 skills in the game. This final part looks at the last 16 skills, including the complex "Support" and "Crafting" skill sets.
Update: It's not the final part any more! I've added a fourth part, detailing some character skill builds.
Update2!: All skill descriptions are now up-to-date with v1.0.10 of the game, including YHTNTEP
This magic tree has never quite been ready for prime-time. The essence of the tree is that you have access to very high-damage spells, at the expenses of causing yourself great pain. Unfortunately, these "great pain" effects scale up (dealing more damage) the higher your Magic Power is. So strong Wizards with 30+ Magic Power cannot realistically cast these spells without killing themselves. One option is to use the Level 3 "Mark of Chthon" - which grants 4 resistance to Necro damage. That can take much of the sting off. Pact of Fleeting Life, at level 4 grants a temporary Vampirism effect, which can also help offset the effects. However, each of these effects cause their own, stacking, penalty effects. Is it worthwhile? I don't think it is, in general. For experts only.
Viking Wizardry is just plain fun. It works well for melee-types who want to dabble in magic, but it has enough beef to make sense for dedicated Wizards to use it as well. Level 1 grants an electrical damage buff, level 2 & 3 grant decent Damage-over-time effects which wear down heavy enemies before you crush them. Level 4 is a huge area-effect debuff which makes your enemies take 3 extra damage on every hit. Level 5 is a +4 fire damage buff to your attacks, plus a chance to rain down fire whenever you deal or take damage. Level 6 is Thor's Fulminaric Bolt, which deals HUGE damage to one target, and moderate damage to anyone (even you!) next to them.
Viking Wizardry is a really fine magic school for warriors who just want a bit of extra options - the damage from the first skill is lovely, and the root effect from the second skill is handy even if the damage is low.
Astrology has been much improved since initial release - it's now a very reasonable self-buff school for melee hybrids, or for some very specific Wizard-only effects. Radiant Aura at level 1 grants some serious Magic Resistance, plus it causes blinding flashes to stun and damage melee opponents. How good is blinding flash? It's 4 + 50% of your Magic Power, plus a 4-turn stun! So... that's amazingly good. Worthwhile at the very beginning of the game, and free later on, so why not use it?
Solar Inscription does similary damage, and dishes out an 8 turn stun - so it won't kill things outright but it does a fine job of blocking monster zoos. Syzygy at level 4 is a watershed - it can easily become a permanent buff to your character, granting them +2 damage, +12 mana, +12 health, +1 Magic Power, +5 Dodge. Nice!
Celestial Aegis at level 5 is another big buff. 2 Armor all the time is pretty awesome, and +2 resistance to Necro damage can help take the bite out of a Necronomiconomics build. 15 Magic Defense is also pretty handy. This now lasts for 8 hits, which makes it worth keeping up most of the time.
The Stars Aligned at level 6 is sort of amazing - but it costs a ton, and is best when you are surrounded. You didn't survive this long by letting yourself get surrounded, did you?
The final Magic School is all about direct damage. If you want to play a "pure" Wizard, this is probably where you want to go. Each level provides Fire Resistance as a bonus, which is handy because you will probably be walking through your own flames on accident. Level 1 is Dragon's Breath, which hits 3 targets in a row in front of you for modest damage. Level 2 is the Rune of Exploding, which works like a high-powered version of the Blade Golem. Level 3 is Summon Wyrmling, a pet similar to the Mustache Golem. Level 4 is the crucial level - where you are rewarded with the AoE Obvious Fireball. This is the spell you can, in practice, clear out most of the game with.
Level 5 gives Gog's tactical Pyre, which sets a burning spot on the ground. This is like the inverse of the Unliving Wall - you want to move people into it and keep them there while they burn. Level 6 is the Infernal Torus - a blasting spell which deals huge damage to everyone around you. It also leaves fires everywhere, so be careful where you step!
The first blatant "Make Wizards Stronger" tree is, actually, pretty good. Remember that, as a Wizard archetype skill, you're getting 2 Sagacity each time you put a point into this tree - which means +1 Magic Power and +4 Mana. This tree gives big bonuses to Savvy - so it will really cut your spell costs in a hurry. You'll also earn significant bonuses to Magic Power (always nice) and level 2 and 4 give some interesting utility skills. Level 2 lets you cast anti-magic field on an enemy - essentially cancelling their ranged attacks for a few turns. Extra-planar-Concentration gives you a huge mana regen effect, at the cost of not being able to block, dodge, or counter while it's in effect. Totally worth it, in most cases.
If you're playing a mage, you almost certainly want to take Magic Training.
This is the best way to get Mana back, if you want to use your Mana to kill enemies. A dedicated Wizard will probably spend 5-8 Mana killing an enemy, and after getting level 2 in the Blood Magic tree, you'll earn that much for each enemy you kill. At level 3 you not only gain more Mana, but you also get a temporary buff to Mana regen and Magic Power. At level 5 you get a longer-duration buff which does essentially the same thing.
Level 4 allows you to tap your own life-force to create awesome healing potions. You can only do this every 100 turns, and the penalties are significant. But a stack of these will really help you survive anything the dungeon has to throw at you.
Update! Blood Magic's ability to steal mana has been toned down significantly. It's still quite good, but Ley Walker and Magic Training now give it a bit of a run for its money. Experiment with all three to see which work best for you.
To understand this skill tree, you need to know how Mana regenerates. On Easy difficulty, you get one Mana back every 4 turns. On normal, it's every 7 turns. On Hard, it's every 8 turns. Each +1 to your Mana Regeneration ability reduces this timer by 1 turn. Ley Walker's level 1,2, and 5 increases your Mana Regeneration by +1, so at level 4 Hard feels like Easy - at least in terms of mana regeneration.
On Easy difficulty, this skill tree is fantastically good - you start regenerating 1 mana every single turn. On other difficulties it's a 30-40% increase to your mana regeneration. Isn't that good?
Well, as it turns out, it's not really that good. You have plenty of time to regen mana in between battles - it's the mid-battle regeneration which is key.
Update! This skill tree has been given 2 additional skills - at level 2 and level 5. Level 2 gives you an incredible mana regen skill which you can activate at will to get 24 mana back. If you get just a tiny bit of time - this actually covers your mid-battle mana regen needs. Not shabby. Level 5 gives you a teleport skill, which also drains away your mana. If you don't have Mathemagic or Burglary, Level 5 might be worthwhile as a panic button. If you have either, you absolutely don't need level 5.
If you take this, get level 2 ASAP. And enjoy.
Perception is a very interesting Hodgepodge of skills. Level 1 grants +5 Enemy Dodge Reduction, which is solid by not remarkable. It also grants +1 sight range, which doesn't really come into play until you start to engage with invisible enemies around floor 5. Level 2 grants +1 bonuses to sight range, trap vision, and a +5 to Dodge. +1 trap vision is actually pretty good, but the rest is unremarkable. Level 3 grants another round of bonuses identical to level 2, but with the notable addition of +2 to Traps skill. Traps skill allows you to disarm and collect traps much more easily - so it's a source of XP as well as a good way to stay alive. Level 4 Grants +5 Enemy Dodge Reduction, +1 sight range, and the Second Sight ability - which grants huge bonuses to trap vision, sight range, dodge, and +15 (!) to Enemy Dodge Reduction.
Update! Two more skills in Perception line: Level 5 now reveals invisible enemies - which is pretty awesome at those moments when you need it. Level 6 now gives you LASER EYEBEAMS. Yes, really. Most awesome of all, the damage from your eye lasers scales up with your perception rating. So grab some glasses if you can! One of the best damage skills in the game, and it costs no mana.
Update Again! As if Perception were not already pretty good - the dodge bonuses have been upped to +5 each, and you have a 5% chance of spawning a useful item every time you kill an enemy. These are essential bits like iron ingots, coal - all the crafting items you never quite got enough of. You find more, and better, items as you increase your Perception skill.
This is one of my personal favorite skill trees - it has goodies at every tier. I find it very hard to avoid taking this on every one of my characters, because it fills so many niches. Level 1 gives you the minor ability to steal an item from every vending machine. Not bad. But level 2 has "Lucky Pick" - the ability to create lockpicks. If you become accustomed to using these periodically, you have an infinite supply of lockpicks, which means you get tons of easy XP from locked doors and chests. On top of that you get +1 trap vision and +1 Nimbleness? Amazing.
Level 3 ups the ante further, by throwing in a +1 Traps skill - which is enough for a few hundred XP worth of trap disarming, easily, by the second floor. The actual lockdown ability is handy as well.
Levels 4 and 6, however, are the reasons you'll have a hard time believing you ever went without Burglary. Level 4 allows you to become invisible at will, and level 6 grants you a perfect teleport ability to any visible space. Those two skills will absolutely save your life over and over. Level 5 is the wonderfully thematic five-finger discount, which gives you a free item the first time you enter a shop. Not an item from the shop itself - but an item of appropriate level. It's like the vendng steal skill, but sometimes much better. I've never found it especially useful - but the potential is there.
Update! Burglary has been stretched across a few extra levels - which makes it less of a "every character must take this" tree - but all the goodness (plus some new goodness!) is still there. Luck Pick is now the level 2 skill - so you'll want that ASAP. Level 1 is a new ability which gives you a free item from each vending machine. This can be trivial, or it can be a huge source of early funds, depending on your luck. Move in Mysterious Ways has been moved to the end of the tree - so it requires 6 skill points instead of 4. Still totally worth it.
This is a Rogue Archetype skill, but it only works if you are fighting in melee range. Skills at level 1, 4,5 are similar - each provides a bonus to Critical Chance, and each gives you a ~25% chance to deal extra damage + stun your opponent. With all three levels under your belt, your attacks will stun enemies more than half the time - that means no counter-attacks! Interestingly, this sort of anti-combos with high Counter Chance, since opponents don't attack you much. Even one level of this skill tree is useful, and the benefits increase with each additional skill. If you aren't focused on Counters, and you aren't using Dual Wielding, this is probably a good place to find some damage mitigation.
Either put no points into this skill (still very useful!) or get 5 into it.
Oh my, Fungal Arts is a huge grab-bag of strange and awesome skills. At each level you get an increased chance to "bloom" an enemy you kill into a random mushroom. There are 12 different types of fungus in the game, which you should learn about. Their effects are consistent from game to game. All you really need to know is that Mud Wen are poisonous - though not immediately deadly. Getting levels in Fungal Arts means you will be creating more and more mushrooms - which is pretty awesome.
Levels 2 and 5 give you summonable fungus pets, which are fairly comparable to the Moustache and Mortal Machine from Golemancy. They cost no mana, but have long recharge timers. Level 3 gives you the power to turn mushroom stacks into a random type of mushroom - useful but not awe-inspiring. Level 4 gives you a 15% chance to deal extra poison damage and create spore clouds on attacks. Every level also grants +1 Poison resistance, which can be very handy later on. In most cases, you will really want 2 levels of this - more if you run out of critical skills to improve.
Update! Alchemy is probably the most-changed crafting skill, and that's a good thing. Alchemy used to give a multiplicative effect on creating booze (used to regen mana) so 1 apple -> 3 weak booze, each of which -> 3 strong booze, each of which -> 2 Aqua Vitae. That was 18 AV for each fruit, each of which could be changed into a potion. Ridiculous!
As of v1.0.10, this relationship is reversed. It requires 2 fruit to make 1 weak booze, and 2 weak booze (of the same type) to make 1 stronge booze. 1 Strong Booze -> 1 AV. This means that there are two types of alchemists - those who use the skill to make booze as a source of mana, and those who horde booze as a source of potion reagents. Both types probably want to get level 5 pretty quickly, to craft the top-level staff weapons, including the Fruitful staff, which gives you a huge supply of fruit to feed to your distillary.
The other thing Alchemist do is make potions, and while potions are awesome they aren't really something you'll use frequently. Invisibility potions are excellent, as are potions of purity. Health potions are easy to come by, and you should have 50+ stockpiled by dungeon level 4. Mana potions are pretty useful if you're not focused on brewing booze. Elemental resistance potions are nice in specific instances - keep a few gems around so you can make them as necessary. Alchemy also has access to some fantastic throwing weapons - they deal heavy AoE damage, and they don't care how strong your throwing arm is, so Wizards get lots of use out of them.
Alchemy really runs on grinding iron objects into rust powder for healing potions, so it doesn't synergize well with Smithing, in general.
Update! Wand Lore has become a 4th crafting skill, and the jury's still out on how useful it is. You'll need to collect burnt-out wands to craft new wands out of. Wands have been adjusted a bit to be more consistent damage-dealing tools, which more charges. They also tend to scale strongly with Magic Power, so your wizards will get SIGNIFICANTLY more use out of them.
I'm not in love with Archeology, but many people feel about it the way I feel about Burglary - that it's an essential part of every character. It provides Nimbleness, Traps (awesome) and Trap vision bonuses, so it can be a good all-round boost to early characters. Level 2 gives you an ability to transform artifacts (enchanted items) into free XP - another excellent boost. Level 4 gives you the ability to transform useless artifacts into good artifacts - not a bad trick to have in your kit, though I'd usually prefer the XP. Level 5, however, gives the amazing Ancient Kronian Ritual. This allows you to use anvils of Krong Twice - effectively doubling the number of sweet, sweet bonuses you can confer upon your best equipment. Once you have this, you can use your transmute skill to (eventually) ensure that your bad enchantments become positive.
Smithing grants +1 Burliness at each level - a throwback to the time when it was a Rogue archetype skill. It is now a Warrior skill, so the Burliness is probably too good. Smithing provides no skills, though level 2 does add +1 Traps. (Have I mentioned how excellent +1 Traps is in the early game?). Smithing allows you to create armor & weapons out of ingots, which is a pretty great trick. Steel is often your limiting factor here - be very careful with your chalk, coal, and pearls. Thrown Weapons can get away with only taking level 3 Smithing, but anyone else will want to get to level 5, for the best possible weapons & armor. Smithing is a really excellent skill tree, and highly recommended when you want to explore your first crafting skill.
Tinkering is the final skill tree, and the final (and most complex!) of the crafting trees. Tinkering provides Savvy, and Traps skill at each level - a total of +8 Traps skill if you reach the maximum level of 5. Tinkering has a strange catch-all of recipes - it has the amazing clockwork chainsaw, power limbs, Tirker Goggles, Three-pronged sword - but it focuses on three primary types of objects: Traps, Crossbows, and Crossbow Bolts.
Building Traps is, simply, not a very good idea. You will be picking up hundreds of traps during your play, so making more is a fairly ridiculous proposition. That means that Tinkering builds crossbows and bolts - so it is the defacto skill for characters who want to fight at range without spells. Tinkering also makes some Thrown weapons (it's interesting how Thrown weapons are distributed between Tinkering and Smithing...) but those are limited to variations on Makeshift Bombs. Thrown weapons actually are a nice choice if you focus on making Clockwork Limbs to increase your strength. The crossbows made with Tinkering are worlds better than anything you might find in the game - they provide between +10 and +14 Pierce damage, which means that your crossbow is generally much more important than your bolt. Archer skill level 3 (max) provides +4 Pierce damage, which is why Tinkering is much better than Archery, if you have to choose between them. The best bolts you'll create in quantity deal 8 damage, so it's really all about your crossbow.
Unfortunately, even with max level Tinkering, you simply won't be able to produce / buy / salvage enough bolts to kill everything with your crossbow. Keep a melee skill or a strong mage-focus build around, and try using Tinkering as just a quick way for mana-free ranged attacks.