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Sorcerer 101

From Diablo 2 Wiki

This colorfully-written guide to low-mid level Sorcerer play was authored by Armin.

Sorcerer 101

Greetings and good morning, students! Take your seats, quit the chatter and put that newspapers away, will ya?

I welcome you to this auditorium and the first lecture of "Basic Dungeon Survival for the Beginning Mageling". My name is Perkelanamordinachrubidderdoocromwellhrumbishnog, the third, but you tall folk may call me Percy. And yes, I am a Gnome. No Human , Elf, Dwarf - a Gnome. So what...

Actually, I have been all my life, so I have heard all the jokes about my height and the size of my nose already... *smiles* I have also heard all the stories about relationship between the size of a man's nose and that of _other_ vital parts, so we may as well skip that part... *blinks at the female students*

So you wanna be a mage, eh? Wanna find wealth and glory, battle the evil hordes and stuff like that? Well, most folk that have come here found a screaming death at the hands of some monster and not much else. I hear them complaining how hard it is to start up as a sorcerer, when in fact all you gotta do is follow some common sense and simple advice. That's what I'm here to provide.

I see the look in your faces... "Why that Beyond Naked lunatic?", you're asking yourself... You wanna all follow the example of some of the living legends in this faculty... Become a Sorcerer of the 50th cirle...

But forget that for a while. For now you are mages of the first circle. No "Battle Mage" or "Artillery Mage" discussion for you. No discussion of Dreamflanges, Arch Angels' staves or level 19 Chain Lightning... That are discussions for sorcerers beyond the 30th circle! You'll need some basic, dirt-crawling strategies that will keep you alive in the first few dungeon levels. That's what I'm here to provide.

Getting Started

So let's start with what you have... You left the academy with your basic training, an understanding of the magical arts and a grade2 firebolt spell. This should be your prime method of attack from the very beginning. You have your graduation gift, a staff of charged bolt, with 40 charges. For now, this is your only lightning-based spell. So value it. The witch Adria can recharge it for you, but that will cost a lot of money (we'll deal with that overcharging shops here in Tristram later on...). You can recharge it yourself, but at the level of skill you have at the moment, this will lower the charges it can hold significantly. I advise some common sense when pondering recharges. If you find a book of Charged Bolt early, you'll have a lightning attack of your own, and should not waste any more money on recharges, but do it yourself. But until then I'd better pay that ripoff witch, and preserve the staff for emergencies.

[Side note: in Hellfire you start with a staff of mana - but we're talkin Diablo classic here :)]

Then there's your life's savings... How much will that be? 100 gold perhaps... What should you do with them? Many advocate to buy some protective cloak and perhaps a cap at Griswold... But think about it: These will only protect you marginally and only against the very weakest monsters. The 100 gold will be spent for something that becomes obsolete in no time. I'm a strong follower of the "offense is the best defense" philosophy, and would rather buy two mana potion for that. That will be enough mana to shoot a good number of monsters BEFORE they hit you...

Now you enter the dungeon for the first time... Be prepared. Ready the spells you have in your mental "drawers", so you can cast them fast...

[Note: set spell hotkeys by hitting "S", moving the mouse cursor over the spell and hitting one of the F5-F8 keys to assign this key as the Hotkey. I suggest you use F5 for Firebolt and F6 for charged bolt and stick with that setup - F5=fire F6=lightning for the rest of your life]

Ok, you see your first enemy, what should you do? Don't try the way of the warrior. Don't run TOWARDS the monsters, and try to hit them. Some of you who believe in reincarnation may have BEEN a Warrior in a previous life. Get rid of the habits. You're weak, you are an intellectual. Let the monsters come to you! And learn to retreat a lot! That has nothing to do with cowardness, only with intelligence. Getting yourself killed isn't going to save the world. Fighting from a better tactical position might... I have brothers and sisters, who are Warriors, Bards or Barbarians, who would advise the very same thing. Even a wise warrior will choose the place and time of battle, and not charge blindly into the fray! Wait for your enemies, and don't let too many at once notice you. Advance SLOWLY!!!

Learn Your Enemies

In the beginning, money is scarce. You may have to preserve your mana (something you should never do later) and kill some monsters by bashing them with that wooden stick. Learn which ones you can hit with the stick. Your basic zombie is slow and stupid, even a weak and clumsy mage can hit it. So if it's one - use the staff. If three are coming your way - shoot two. The fallen ones are weak and cowardly, they will run away every time one falls. You can handle a single one with the staff. If more are coming, shoot one with a firebolt, or cast some Charged bolts from your staff to thin them out. Be careful about skeletons. They are not THAT easy to hit (remember: a warrior hits 20% better than you do, just for BEING a warrior, he hits harder and has critical hits, and he swings most weapons faster - so don't waste time to imitate him) and they can hurt if they hit. The good thing is, your staff, other than a sword, does full damage against them (a club will even do 50% extra). If more than one skeleton comes at you, again, use firebolts and charged bolts from your staff. NEVER try to beat it out with the scavengers. These animals are quick, tough, and really HURT. But a single firebolt will in most cases kill them. Same goes for any flying critters. Shoot first, ask questions later...

A note on spellcasting

Try to shoot at straight lines. Along the dungeon walls or at a 45 degree angle. You'll hit better. And try to shoot at closer distance first, until your magic skill improves. 2-3 squares are a good distance. Use doorways and other choke points to channel the enemies (remember: THEY come to YOU, not vice versa!), much like a warrior would. You'll hit better that way. Don't be too shy about the charged bolts, cast two or three or even more of them to flood small rooms filled with monsters. Then switch to Firebolt or the staff to finish off the rest. And try to learn, as you advance and the critters become tougher, just how many shots they need to die. Don't fire a firebolt, wait, shoot another, wait some more and see if it might drop... Once you know "Flesh clan goat, usually 3 shots", fire 3 Bolts in quick succession at every one. It saves precious time and won't let them advance. Sometimes you will waste a shot 'cause the second killed it already, but rather waste one bolt, than get hit. Oh, and: learn the critters strengths and weaknesses! Learn what kind of attack they resist or later what they are immune against. Saves precious time.

Spells to look for

In the beginning the most important spells are Firebolt, charged bolt, Holy Bolt (For the undead it is VERY effective) and healing. Healing yourself with spell is cheaper than red pots, but in emergencies you should drink potions from your belt and rather keep shooting the beasts that hurt you while doing so.

[I never hotkey healing with a mage - unless very early I HAVE no other spells to choose. I heal myself in a quite moment by using the spellbook and drink potions in a tight spot.]

Once you find your first Book of Mana Shield, all the healing becomes obsolete anyway. And that is the single most important spell to look for when you advance. Don't enter the caves without it :) Firewall is a very cost-effective low-level spell that can clear entire rooms in the church and catacombs. The good thing is, it burns while you do something else, like firebolting everything that comes through. Learn to use it well! Learn to cast it quick to cover your retreat and to cast it in straight lines behind doors. Lightning will replace Charged bolt later. Learn to use it to its best effect, by retreating around corners, to line up your pursuers. The more you hit in a row, the better...

Attribute Distribution

Now, as you advance in skill, what should you train? Well, my somewhat biased opinion: Don't bother with anything that helps you hit critters over the head. Focus on magic. I see a lot fledgeling mages making push-ups, lifting weights and practising their hand-eye coordination. I say: forget it! You need no dexterity to hit with your spells. You need to train your magic skill. Even with some strength, you'll NEVER match the Warrior's fighting skill. Concentrate on your strengths and don't whine about your weaknesses. You should avoid being hit alltogether, so don't bother boosting your vitality. Once you have Mana Shield, you can take more than even the sturdiest Warrior! The only reason one might want to build strength, is to be able to use a set of Mail Of Sorcery or a Staff of Wizardy :) Once you are a mage of the 26th circle, you are entitled to buy Elixiers at the witch. You can take care of Strength and Dex then.

[Or in short: put all lvl-up points into magic :)]


That brings us to the items to look for. My first advice: Never BUY armor in the beginning. Never BUY weapons. Use your scarce money for Books and blue pots. Spells are your offense and defense. Focus on them. Of course, make use of everything you may come upon and that may look useful (No, I won't lecture about my personal preference for cursed gear), but don't spend money you don't have for things that are less important than your spell grades. Sell everything you don't really need to buy books and Blues. Later, if money is available, look for things that add to your magic skill, mana or spell levels above all. Buy every book of Firebolt, Charged bolt, Holy bolt, Fire Wall, etc. You can find. The spells become cheaper and more effective as you advance. You should not BUY the following, once you know the spells: Town portal, Mana Shield, Healing. That would be a waste of money.

One sidenote though: (Thanks to Prof. Da O'Toth for reminding) Enchanted shrines are the mage's favourite, as they raise ALL your spell levels by one, and decrease only ONE by a level. Early in the game you may want to make sure that you got all VITAL spells at least at lvl 2 before touching one, so it won't lower that spell to lvl0 and make it unusable And: should you find one of those beauties extremely early in your travels, don't touch it, note the position and return later, when you know more spells. That way you'll profit more from it.

Some more survival tips

Organize your belt. The second you need to think about which belt pouch to grab for is the second you'll die. In the beginning, have some healing potions ready for emergencies. Use small pots in the beginning, full pots, though they are overprized later when money is less tight. It's some safety that pays off. Once you have Mana shield, you won't need Pepin's pots any more. A good belt setup then is: only big blues, but on the two closest position. Use a Big yellow (yeah, the hilariously overpriced) one in the first, a Scroll of mana shield in the second pouch. In an emergency, two quick grabs will get you full up and running again.

[Belt position 1 (Full rejuv) and 2 (scroll of MS) - hit a quick 1-2 while walking away from the enemy - the "Oh my god I'm gonna die!" keys)

Practice your mental discipline. Know which spell is in which area of your mind. Cast them at a second's notice without thinking.

[Translation: learn your Hotkeys!!]

And the most important: (Thx again, Prof. O'Toth :) NEVER TOUCH ANY SHRINE YOU DON'T KNOW THE EFFECT OF!!! (Especially Goat shrines or cauldrons, whose effects are random) There are 3 shrines that can cripple the aspiring sorceror for LIFE! The FASCINATING, ORNATE, and SACRED shrines raise one rather insignificant spell by two grades, but lower your maximum mana pool by 10% PERMANENTLY! I have seen valued colleagues commit SUICIDE when they found out, they were more than 100 mana short of what they could have been! Get a list of the shrines effects and NEVER touch one when in doubt! (Prof. Jarulf's book mentioned below contains one, of course)

Early Monster Bosses

A side note on the two toughest enemies in lower levels: Catch "The Butcher" behind a grate or in the stairs down to lvl3. Use firebolt and/or a scroll of Firewall you may have found by then to barbeque him. Use holy bolts on "King Leoric". Don't try to hit any of these two with sticks... Two long and excellent papers on the subjects by Prof. Dr. Pete are in circulation on the black boards here, and will keep being reposted at request by the faculty's automatic response golem Landru, so I won't go into more detail here.

Well, and as you advance, you may want some more in-depth reference. For that I recommend the excellent book "A guide to Diablo and Hellfire", by Prof. Dr. Jarulf (emeritus, *sniff*)

It may be confusing for the beginner, but as you learn and advance, it will provide all the reference you need.

So, I hope this will help to keep some of you alive and kicking for the hard times ahead. Feel free to contact one of my other selves via the astral address given above.

In Conclusion

Let me close this lecture with a going-away quote. You may ask yourself, why _I_ carry all this cursed equipment on me. Well: you see this *caresses the handle* useless Axe of the Pit was the only weapon I used when defeating the Dark Lord at the highest level of difficulty...

On another world, in another reality, in a land named Japan, there was, a few hundred years ago, a legendary Sword Master named Musashi Miamoto. He was famous for going to battle not with the fine Katana he was entitled to, but with a Bokken - a wooden training version of the Samurai's sword. Asked about this strange behavior he used to reply:

"In the hands of a true master, this is just as deadly as the real thing"

He was reported to have slain more than 300 enemies...

Or in other words: Don't be materialistic as a mage. Don't look for the best equipment, practice your spells and your skills. It helps more, in the long run :)

This closes the lecture for today. Please leave the auditorium in an orderly way, register when going out, and enter the dungeon in a civilized manner.

For those of you who like to enter the dungeon in groups, eventually even with those testosterone-filled warriors or trigger-happy rogues, there will be another lecture to be anounced...

Have a nice day