Written by Racktor, October 25th 2017
- Your First School(s)
- Getting Experience
- What Schools Do I Take?
When you are first touching biped leveling, especially if you are coming from a draconic background, you are likely going to be overwhelmed. Take a breath, look around, and let's break it down.
Bipeds have a whopping 24 adventure schools and can reach rating 278 if they max all of them out. This goal can take years to achieve due to how little there is to do for experience at higher ratings. Furthermore, there's only so much you can tech onto your gear and only so many places you can put training points. One of the biggest things a new biped player should realise is that you do not need anywhere near rating 278 to be a useful biped. Most biped characters are nowhere near that high of a rating nor do they care to achieve this.
Out of those 24 schools that are offered to you, four of them are known as basic or base schools and the other twenty are prestige schools. The basic schools are Cleric, Mage, Scout, and Warrior. They represent the four major sections of Istaria's biped specializations: healing/support, magic, ranged, and melee. We'll touch on that in a moment.
The rest of the biped schools are prestige schools, which means that you have to meet a specific requirement before you can join them. You will start at level 20 instead of level 1 when joining these schools. Generally, these will require level 20 in your current school and a specific base skill of 200.
Back to the specializations of biped schools. Most of the schools in the game focus their abilities and equipment on one of these sections. In general:
- Melee schools use axes, swords, fists, daggers, and other point-blank weapons to deal their damage. They generally allow you to wear the strongest armor in the game, Platemail, and give a higher health gain than other schools. Most of the classes here will be focusing on either tanking or damage output.
- Ranged schools are schools that use physical weapons to deal ranged damage such as crossbows, shortbows, and longbows. These schools usually have a high damage output, but are moderately squishy in turn.
- Magic schools use spells as their primary offensive weapons, but can also equip items like staffs to assist them in close combat. These schools are usually among the squishiest in terms of health, but can produce some of the highest damage outputs and are generally hailed as very versatile due to the wide variety of debuffs, stuns, mezzes, and/or roots.
- Support schools are generally offshoots of magic schools that specialize in supporting other players or healing them. Schools like this generally have very few offensive abilities or capabilities in general and relay on others as their main output of damage.
While all schools can fit into one or two of these categories, it is important to remember that not every schools is going to follow these exact rules and there's variations to each school that makes it unique.
Now, before we move on to specifics, there are two things to remember - one is that while bipeds can work on adventure alone, it is highly recommended that you bring a craft school up to 100 beforehand to boost a statistic relevant to what you are leveling. (Ex: Blacksmith for Strength if you're working on Warrior) If you do not want to level it to 100, it is recommended you at least try to stay on-level so you can craft some basic gear for yourself or else you will have to be relying entirely on other players.
Secondly, be careful to avoid rating death. There's a lot of choices you will make and many paths you can take, but be smart about them. Don't level 4 schools at once and keep them at the same level; your EXP is calculated from your rating. If you level many schools at once, your rating will outgrow your level very quickly, causing you to lose out on a lot of EXP from on-level mobs.
Finally, Istaria Reference will be your best friend. This site has a complete list of every ability you gain from leveling up as well as which are mastered and what each do. It also lists all the skills gained per level for every school, craft and adventure among many, many other things. Check it out here: Istaria Reference.
Bipeds have quite a few statistics that can be hard to understand at first, so let's break them down.
- Armor Use
Armor Use is a special skill that is given by all schools. This skill is the primary limiting factor in the armor you can wear. For example, most crafting schools will give 6 or 7 per level, allowing you to wear up to Tier 4 armor.
To give another example, if you are a level 81 Warrior, you will have 810 Armor Use. This will let you wear armor that requires level 81 and 810 armor use. However, you cannot wear any armor that requires level 91 and 810 armor use. If you swap to another school that is lower-level, you will keep the 810 armor use, but you will no longer be able to wear the level 81 armor because it is no longer your current school despite your Armor Use being high enough.
Similarly, if you are level 81 in Healer, but only have 600 Armor Use, you cannot wear any level 81 armor that requires the 810 Armor Use.
- Weapon Skills
Weapon skills include Bow, Crossbow, One Hand Crush, One Hand Pierce, One Hand Slash, Two Hand Crush, Two Hand Slash, and Unarmed. These skills help determine three things - your damage, accuracy, and available weapons. The damage of a weapon using Bow will be greatly enhanced by higher bow skill. Furthermore, better bows will require more and more bow skill to equip. Even if you are currently level 100 in your school, if your bow requires 800 Bow and you have 600, you will not be able to equip it despite the level 80 minimum requirement.
- Magic Skills
- Defensive Skills
Most magic skills are used both to determine damage, accuracy, and to meet spell requirements. They are essentially the spell version of weapon skills. Mind spells that require 800 Mind skill and 80 adventure level require you to meet both at once. It is very possible to be level 80 adventure and not have 800 mind skill or vice versa, causing the spell you are trying to scribe to be unusable.
The magic skill of life is a unique skill as alongside determining the damage and accuracy of offensive spells, it also helps influence the effectiveness of healing spells. The better your life skill, the more health your spells may heal.
Augmentation is also a more or less unique skill. It is attached to no offensive spells and is only used by spells that are considered buffs, such as Gift of Speed or Enhance Strength. It is useless to raise this skill for any reason once you have a class that gets 10/level such as Healer as no spell requires more than 1000 augmentation skill.
There is a good handful of magic skills in the game: Augmentation, Blight, Energy, Flame, Ice, Life, Mind, Nature, Spirit, and Summoning.
Defensive skills include Shield, Magic Evasion, and Evasion. Shield and the Evasions do very different things, but they are under one banner as they aren't really useful enough to elaborate on their own.
Shield is essentially the Weapon Skill of Shields. The higher your shield skill, the better shields you can equip and also the better your chances are to effectively block an attack.
Evasion, on the other hand, is your chance to dodge an attack all together. The higher the evasion, the better your chances are to dodge the attack. Magic Evasion is the same, but only for spells.
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Choosing your first school is not as big of a deciding factor in the rest of your leveling as you may think it is, so don't sweat trying out the few schools at the start. It won't hurt you to have your beginning schools all at level 4-5; just be careful not to level them too far at once or else it will begin rating death as mentioned earlier.
Generally, there are two paths people take when choosing their first school. Some take Warrior first and make it their first level 100 school due to the amount of weapon skill and armor use it gives you. (10 per level for both mentioned) This makes working on further schools easier as it gives a good basis for health as well, making you less easily killed.
The second path is taking the first class to whichever future class you plan to main in. For example, if you plan to be a Ranger, you may take Scout. If you plan to be a Wizard, you might take Mage. Generally this plan of action is taken by people who are not solo and are leveling alongside a friend or two who can make up for your faults or for those who plan to dedicatedly multiclass to level 100.
Single-classing versus multi-classing is also another choice you will want to make early on. While mentioned earlier that it is bad to level too many schools at once, it is not awful to keep two or so schools around the same level when moving forward in the game. Generally, it is recommended that you pick up Cleric and level it until you can get your first healing spells before moving on in your main class so you can keep yourself healed during fights. Otherwise, you'll be relying purely on your own skill to avoid death.
If you plan to single-class, it is recommended that you play with a friend or two who can help you kill things and protect you, especially if you are a ranged biped. Low-level bipeds are notoriously squishy, especially if single-classed.
Once you decide on which class you want to take, follow your tutorial quests as long as you can before moving to New Trismus. From there begins the long haul of your first school, which is arguably the hardest school to level.
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Istaria is not a very well guided game when it comes to finding all the quests around the world. It is highly recommended that you look up quests for your level on the wikis for the game or ask your fellow players for guidance.
For these levels, your quest hubs are going to be Spirit Island and New Trismus. Keep an eye out for the quests offered by Pratt nearby the shrine in the town as well as the outskirts of the town and the camp nearby the northwestern deadland.
At these levels you can still linger in New Trismus working on the quests there or killing various mobs, especially if you are solo as the Undead-related quests can be very hard to do alone. Otherwise, you can step out of New Trismus into the 'real' world, beginning with Kion. In Kion, you no longer have any class-specific quests and will have to rely on the world quests, trophy hunter quests, or town marhshall quests from here on out.
For story quests, look around Kion, Sslanis, and Parsinia for quests offered by NPCs. There is also a quest offered by an NPC treant named Felion Mor east of Parsinia in the Cedar fields that can be easy to miss. Barradin the Miner over by the Kion Mine also hands out a quest to kill a nearby golem.
For town marshalls and trophy hunters, look towards Kion or Sslanis for their quests and hunt whatever they ask you to. Be aware that during this tier, trophies are essentially worthless - it takes thousands to get to the next section of trophies. You may as well just fight mobs for straight EXP.
This swath of levels moves you over to the Dalimond Peninsula instead of the Lesser Aradoth, which is a much larger piece of land. Nearly every quest in this area begins in either Dalimond or Bristugo. Be sure to check the areas nearby the two towns for any straggler NPCs that don't live in the town center, but otherwise there's very little hidden out in the world on the Dalimond Peninsula itself.
Be sure to pick up the Plundered Tombs questline once you can. It starts with the Broken Cargo Disk quest given by Private Elissa Malna in Sable Shore. The questline splits off a few times into smaller side-quests, but otherwise is a very long, continuous questline that rewards the most decent EXP out of anything in the region. Be aware that it is a very tough questline, however, and tackling it alone will likely get you killed very quickly. Try to outlevel the quest requirements and targets as much as you can if you are playing solo.
An important questline not to miss out in the world is the beginning of the Cult of Scorpus questline which starts at Sergeant Benal Tokash in Tishlar. There are also a few other side questlines in the area over by Desert Shore, so be sure to check those out and pick them up.
Outside of the questlines, the trophy hunter and town marshall quests will aid you, though they are still rather painful in this tier. These levels open up the possibility of fighting Ruxus, which are a good mob to grind off of as they aren't too powerful and come in a variety of levels.
These levels can be very tough to get through. This is the tier that is near the tail end of the current new content in the game as part of the most recent tier revamps. The quest hubs for this tier are Tishlar, New Rachival and Mahagra, though only New Rachival and Tishlar really offer any quests. Be sure to do the Renegades questline in New Rachival that leads into the Cult of Telak.
Over at the Tower of Healing is another hub of quests, beginning in the lower 40s. However, the later quests mostly target Undead and can be very tough, even for outleveled Dragons who are comparably far more tanky than Bipeds, so bring friends or be very careful.
The later end of this tier brings you up to Frostwatch with the short questline for the Cult of Akkinelos. However, once you are done with these three hubs, that is essentially it for quests within this tier.
Town marshalls and trophy hunters become vaguely more useful in this tier, though they still aren't necessarily the most useful they could be. However, it's better than nothing and it's worth seeking out the mobs the trophy hunters ask for.
This tier is the toughest tier in the game as of right now. There are no quests whatsoever in this tier, leaving you completely on your own in terms of content. Be ready to spend hours fighting mobs for town marshall and trophy hunter quests. Mercifully, trophies become more useful in this tier and there are some good mobs to fight for EXP - namely Opal Golems, which spawn in good quantities and aren't too hard to kill when underleveled.
At the upper end of this tier, it's worth fighting higher-level mobs to gather up trophies for the future while also gaining a decent amount of EXP. Try to focus on Golems, as they don't inflict as many debilitating debuffs nor do as much damage as some other mobs in the game. Gem golems are especially nice as they lack the overburden debuff that metal and stone golems have.
While this tier is very similar to T4 in terms of content, it's at least a lot easier to level in as the trophy quests give a substantial amount of EXP. However, by this point you will be running out of mobs higher level than you to grind off of that also drop trophies, so you will have to focus more on mobs your level.
The beginning of this tier is pretty awful when it comes to trophy drops, so it's generally recommended that you focus on the higher-level mobs in the tier and gather trophies for your own use later. Treants are pretty generous with their trophy drops and aren't too dangerous to deal with, especially if you can deal flame damage. Otherwise, look for gem golems again. Avoid undead like the plague; at this tier, they are nearly impossible without a group as they are usually very social and have many of the same powerful skills a player does.
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Once you have your first school to level 100, make sure you attune to Dralnok's Doom as soon as you can. The Doom will be your best friend from here on out, especially if you have a dragon.
If you have a dragon and the ability to dual log, bring your biped into the doom at the Dung Piles further in nearby the Mylocs. Keep the biped and your dragon in the same group and send your dragon on a killing spree versus the maggots. As your biped is a very low rating in its first few extra schools, it will gain tremendous amounts of experience and hit level 100 in no time. By rating 160-170 (when in a max school), however, this experience really starts to slow down tremendously and it becomes a pain even with the assistance of the doom.
If you don't have a dragon or the ability to dual log, Dralnok's Doom can be helpful if you are fighting with a few friends. Have a friend kill maggots for hoard while you tag along or fight alongside friends versus other mobs in the Doom.
Trophy leveling is the only other option for these schools, however. Play in your highest-level school and fight the mobs in your other class's tier to gather up trophies to help yourself level. As was the issue with your first school, however, be very wary of low-tier trophy leveling. Levels 0 to 5 literally take over ten thousand trophies if you've already gotten the bonus EXP for the first 10 turn-ins, while Tier 5 only takes a few hundred.
In the end, do what you can stand and what you feel works best. Don't be afraid to take a break every now and then and work on other things as well; a biped is a long-term commitment that takes a lot of time, effort, and grinding to get to a state where it is very versatile and can handle everything easily solo.
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When it comes to choosing your schools beyond just your starter school and your first prestige school, you may be unsure as to what other schools to pick up to better yourself. What you end up taking is really up to what you want in the end; there are many abilities in the game that can be mastered and prove very useful in many other schools, even from schools that may be entirely unrelated to your current one.
When looking for new schools to take, I recommend using Istaria Reference's school charts. Here, you can see what skills each school gives as well as what abilities from it can be mastered.
Choosing schools and finding a build you like is likely the biggest draw of bipeds. Everyone has their own plans and ideas on what they want to do; there's a niche for everyone. Do you want to be a deadly soul-sucking biped that can toss tens of debuffs on mobs while using their own life as fuel? Take Bloodmage with Shaman. What about an archer who can fire three shots a second with its greatest epic weapon, dealing massive damage and keeping enemies nearly permenantly stunned? Take Ranger. In the end, it's really up to you and what you find fun. Explore, enjoy, and most of all, have fun.
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