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Thread: Romancing the SaGa (3)

  1. #1

    Default Romancing the SaGa (3)

    Aaaayyyyy, it's the time of year again and the itch to replay Romancing SaGa 3 overtook me, so I decided to pick this LP back up and complete it alongside my current run of the game. The intention of the original LP was an interactive experience with forum goers directing where our party went and who comprised it, but that fell through completely, so this time I'm just doing a casual playthrough at my own pace without, which will generally include all of the quests and most unique equipment that doesn't require a ton of investment to acquire (seriously, you have NO idea what hunting for all the rare drops is like in this game if you haven't tried it). I also made a few informational errors in the previous LP that I will be correcting here, as well as rebuilding the index I was working on originally which will function as a kind of informational repository for points I cover in the LP, as well as explaining some concepts I will largely gloss over.

    That said, for players that are unfamiliar with the title, Romancing SaGa 3 is the sixth game in Squaresoft's SaGa series and has a large focus on quest based game progression rather than story and event driven progression like the company's more famous Final Fantasy series. It also eschews the traditional leveling systems found in many RPGs of the time, instead basing character growths on the actions they perform in combat, ala Final Fantasy 2 with a whole hell of a lot more refinement. What makes the title extremely interesting is the wide range of characters and the absolute freedom the player has in selecting what they want to do in when, with only a handful of quests being locked behind checkpoints, and this makes the game far less about hopping from boss to boss and more about prioritization -- who do I want, what gear do I want, what's the fastest way to get here, can I make this build work, ect. It contributes a wonderful amount of replay value to the right type of player, and if you are the kind of person who liked the second half of Final Fantasy 6 more than the first I highly recommend this title to you, it is well worth the time.

    Now then, with that little bit out of the way let's move on to the first choice the game gives us: main character selection! Relatively unique to the series, when you start a new game you are offered eight main characters to pick from, each with their own little perks and penalties, and I'll give a quick rundown here of each and what I think of them overall.

    Sara Carson:


    Sara is, insofar as it matters, the true main character of the game, though I won't go into any storyline spoilers here as to why that is. That said, she is also the character I LEAST recommend for new characters to select, as she and a semi-unique character she can recruit cannot be used for a certain end game story battle, which means another party member has to be trained up to replace her. Do be aware this isn't a problem for familiar or forewarned, as you now are, players, and, storyline fittingly, she is the best character for a !Commander Mode! Commander Mode is an alternate combat style available to the player once they have six party members; by opening the formation menu and placing your main character in the inactive party slot you will enter Commander Mode, losing direct control over your characters and gaining the ability to issue large scale orders instead. Additionally, formations will gain additional properties, characters will recover HP each turn automatically, and multi-techs become available. playthrough, if that is your fancy. She can also always recruit Zo the Elephant, who otherwise becomes locked once the fourth Abyss Gate is closed.

    If she isn't selected as the main character she loses the ability to recruit Shonen, comes with the Hunter Shift formation to boost bow damage, specializes in bows, and can be recruited at any time past the introduction in Pidona in Thomas' house. She will leave the party as part of a storyline event however, so only use her to train up bow skills for a planned replacement, as a stopgap until you recruit another permanent party member, or to recruit Zo in Rashkuta.

    Leader Rating: 2/5 (5/5 for a Commander game)
    Recruit Rating: 2/5

    Ellen Carson:


    Sara's rugged older sister, Ellen is the most vanilla leader in the game, with no special events or characters tied to her. This also makes her the least hindered of the main characters, and she is my general preference for main character due to this and her general design -- I dig the ponytailed tomboy look. Also turns out she is a complete offensive monster and makes a fantastic Monk with the Fighter / Kung-Fu combination, which is my general build with her, though Hunter / Kung-Fu deserves special mention for making her crazy fast without lowering her damage. She and Sara also share a supposed special interaction with the Rapier specialty that makes them good at learning any weapon tech, though it isn't something I've ever bothered with testing.

    As a recruitable character the game drops Ellen in northwestern part of Lance and focuses her on axes/maces, though Nora is generally better at these tasks. She has no other special perks other than her general reliability.

    Leader Rating: 3/5
    Recruit Rating: 3/5

    Monica Ausbach:


    Monica is kind of an interesting main character for three reasons: first, she is the character that kicks the entire game off; second, she and Julian are the only ones that see the resolution to the Godwin coup; and, lastly, she, for whatever silly reasons, can have the highest constitution value of the main characters in the game at 23 with the Fighter / Kung-Fu combination, making her potentially the sturdiest member of the cast. I have no idea why this is, but take this knowledge and do whatever terrible things you will do with it, because I made her a support mage tank with a Spike Shield to bash people last time for pure lolz and it was certainly a thing. Those points aside, Monica is a fine main character, being able to recruit Julian before most other people, having a low !Greed Value! the Greed Counter is used exclusively to determine access to Ward's Ice Lake quest and its value increments based on certain 'greedy' actions the player can participate in, such as demanding money to help Vanguard's mayor or accepting bribes from thieves for early money, and has the easiest time obtaining a !Magic Crown! Crowns are the reward for specializing in either physical or magical techs and reduce the TP/JP cost of all corresponding skills by 1. The formula for obtaining a crown is TP/JP => 45 + (JP/TPx10) , out of the main cast making her one of the two best options for a mage character. Her downsides are that she can lose access to certain locations early in the game for storyline reasons and is unable to participate in the tournament in Zweig, meaning she is unable to recruit Leonid or obtain the Holy Grail, though neither of these are particularly large issues.

    On the recruitable character front, Monica is . . . unexceptional, outside of the crown thing, for a great number of reasons. First, she is one of three most difficult to recruit characters, being in Loanne castle which can only be accessed for a limited amount of time by most people; second, she cannot be in a party with Mikhail in it, meaning she has limiting party requirements; third, she doesn't unlock any unique formations, characters, or locations; and, fourth, she has a fairly unexceptional stat spread. Pick her up if you want another mage, but I wouldn't bother prioritizing her outside of that unless you like her design or want more female party members. Amusingly, I'm fairly certain she can participate in the Zweig Tournament as a recruit, though I haven't tested this yet.

    Leader Rating: 4/5
    Recruit Rating: 2/5

    Katrina Lauren:


    Be still, my beating heart. While Harid and Ellen end up being the most reliable damage dealers in the main cast when recruited, neither is especially geared toward two handed sword usage, making it a powerful class of weapons only slow characters are especially good with -- Katrina breaks this mold, being exceptionally fast with great physical stats all around, making her the best character in the game for this role in her recommended Merchant / Two-handed Sword configuration. In fact, she is generally an exceptional character for ANY physical loadouts, just watch out her for her extremely low intelligence value if you actually want to damage things with magic. Regarding unique elements, Katrina is the single most exclusive character in the game, only playable during her scenario and for a small section of Mikhail and Harid's introduction, and she loses access to Loanne immediately after her introduction and is free to explore the world with no other restrictions. She also gets an outfit change.

    As a recruit, well, she has some okay-ish stuff for Harid or Mikhail to steal from her during their introductions, by that's about it -- no one else can get her in their party.

    Leader Rating: 5/5
    Recruit Rating: N/A

    Julian Naul:


    Soooooooooooo, Julian is probably my least used main character in the game, just due to my dislike of his visual design -- the green and orange color pairing does absolutely nothing for me. He isn't bad though, and as a main character he makes a great swordsman and his high Will makes him more resistant to status ailments than the other cast members. It also makes him the best status inducing mage in the party if one goes that route, though the value of that particular setup is a bit dubious due to generally limited skill availability. Nasty Sewn Bind on this man, though. Beyond that, Julian has a special extended introduction he shares with Monica and is able to recruit her earlier than everyone else -- he is also able to permanently lose her via in game choices, so if you are playing as Julian make sure you talk to Monica instead of / before Mikhail whenever possible if you want to keep her around. For his specific downsides, he loses access to Loanne like Monica and Katrina after a certain point in his story if you take logical choices, but you'll regain access to the location once the first Abyss Gate is closed, so that's nothing too big.

    As a recruitable character, he's a decent enough sword user and would be fully usable if he wasn't inside of Loanne castle like Monica and Mikhail and thus unrecruitable until relatively late in the game, at which point you've probably already assembled your party -- not that swapping in / out character is all the big a deal. He's a solid pickup for both Monica and Mikhail though, and generally the first character you'll want to pick up due to his reliability as either of them.

    Leader Rating: 3/5
    Recruit Rating: 3/5

    Thomas Bent:


    Thomas is the, hands-down full-stop, most powerful mage in the enite game, with an absolutely monstrous 27 intelligence with the Scholar / None setup, with his only real downside being his low speed and difficulty obtaining a JP crown, neither of which are especially crippling weaknesses. He's also got unique access to some backstory regarding Muse and Sharl in Pidona which no one else can see or learn about, which is kind of nifty, if unimportant. He can also score a fairly easy 30,000 monies via his trading game, which he conveniently doesn't need to recruit Thomas to participate in.

    As a recruitable character, Thomas is available to everyone in Pidona once the introductory chapter is done, though he does have to be followed through the town to Muse's house to actually recruit him the first time, which isn't at all hard. He starts the game with water magic and is pushed towards either bows or spears with his starting gear, though, as with everyone else, you really can make him use whatever you like. He should also come with the Hunter Shift formation to boost bow damage and is required to start the Merchant minigame, which is fairly simple and nets the player a bunch of money and should be picked up for at least that.

    Leader Rating: 4/5
    Recruit Rating: 4/5

    Harid el Noon:


    Unless you have a specific playthrough idea in mind, be it a Commander game or wanting a super mage or silly tank Monica or whatever else, Harid is tied with Katrina for what I consider the 'best' lead character, as he has great stats and a fantastic bonus dungeon and unique weapon, not to mention being the only character able to fight the final Dragon Ruler, on the offhand chance you are the kind of person that matters to. He also starts the game fairly tanky, a trait he really only shares with Mikhail, and he's the reason literally every other main character starts with the fantastic Desert Lance formation. He does have some downsides, though most are minor. First, he is one of the two characters forced into War Battles during the introduction, which can be quite annoying; second, he has the highest greed counter in the game, meaning you need to either beeline Wood's quest or be an upstanding citizen and forego big early money; third, he, for fully understandable storyline purposes, refuses to wear the robes of the Divine Church and thus must pay 10k to enter the Divine Tower; fourth, his first weapon slot is locked, again for story purposes, exclusively to scimitars; and, last, he cannot head to Pidona immediately after completing the introduction and travels to Zweig instead, which is so incredibly minor I'm just mentioning it for completeness -- I normally take that path at the start anyway. All of these things are completely trivial and offset by his bonus dungeon, by the by.

    As a recruitable character Harid is the single most reliable swordsman in the game, generally !Glimmering! Glimmering is how characters learn new techs in the game, with different characters learning at different rates and harder opponents allowing the player to learn more complicated skills all single handed sword techs reliably and be available without prerequisite in the Holy King's Palace in Lance. He doesn't have access to the King's Capital as a recruit however, so he is slightly worse since he cannot acquire the True Kamsheen, and he still refuses to wear the Divine Church robes so you might want to drop him for that quest. He's nearly always one of my final party members in spite of those points, though.

    Leader Rating: 5/5
    Recruit Rating: 4/5

    Mikhail Ausbach:


    Rounding out our character roster is the Marquis of Loanne, Mikhail, and he's . . . well, he's an oddball. The most important thing to note about him is that is the only character in the game that can fully complete the workshop, and he is also the single best character to use it in general, as he can both order and acquire items from it on his throne, receiving double the normal quantity when he does. He also has a unique ruling minigame where he manages Loanne and participates in various wars to protect it, AND he starts with a fully stocked armory he can pull decent starting equipment from for his party. His major downsides? He is the only character that can drop the game into an unwinnable state, though this is fairly difficult to do and super easy to avoid, and he cannot use the bank to store money over 10k, as everything beyond that is automatically sent to the Loanne treasury for use in the ruling minigame. In particular this can make acquiring high level sun and moon magic a pain, as the top spells both cost 9999 gold.

    As a recruitable character, he's pretty solid, if only for his Heal Rod and good Lord armor, and both Harid and Katrina benefit greatly from stealing from him during their introductions. The only real problem with using him is that, like Julian and Monica, he is inside of Loanne castle and thus most characters need to clear an abyss gate to access him.

    Leader Rating: 4/5
    Recruit Rating: 3/5

    After selecting and naming your character you get to assign a profession and weapon specialty to them, which will augment their base stats and !Learning Type!Learning Types determine what weapon skills characters are good at learning, most characters leaning towards whatever weapon the game starts them with, and your main character is the only person whose learntype you can change. There is a glitch that requires a save and load after starting the game to overwrite their default type with the new one, so just remember to do that at the start of the game., which gives you quite a bit of freedom in making the character you want. For this run I'm taking Ellen down the aforementioned Fighter / Kung-Fu path, so she'll be fast with decent strength and passable toughness, but if you are looking for a certain weapon know that Axes scale with pure strength, Martial Arts use strength AND speed, Epees and Bows pure Dex, and everything uses strength for damage and dex for accuracy. Anyway, with that out of the it is time to move onto the game and into the introductions! ^_^ /
    Last edited by Rez09; 07-16-2018 at 08:14 AM.

  2. #2


    Ye Olde Index

    < Game Mechanics >

    - ! Commander Mode !

    Commander Mode is an alternative combat style that can be activated once you have six party members; simply place your main character in the inactive slot to enable it. In this mode you will lose direct control over you party and instead issue large scale commands via the Y button, such as focusing down a certain enemy or attempting to gain priority and act before the enemies. Additionally, the mode unlocks multi-techs based on equipment and the selected formation, passive effects from said formations, and grants all party members end of turn regeneration that stacks with item / spell regeneration effects and can revive fallen party members.

    - ! Learning Type !

    Learning Types are effectively lists of techniques that are applied to a character and determine what they are proficient at learning, being one of the two primary factors in how easily a given skill is glimmered. Outside of the main character these cannot be changed, and most of them are applied pretty intuitively, often lining up with a given character's starting weapon. The particular exceptions to this are Zo and the Snowman, who appear to have the the Axe and Kun-Fu learning types, respectively. To be clear, everyone in the game can learn every tech regardless of their Learning Type, it just requires far less grinding if the proper people are trying to learn the proper skills.

    - ! Greed Counter !

    The Greed Counter is an invisible counter used to determine access to Wood's Ice Lake quest, which he will not grant once your greed value hitss 15. This would be unimportant, as the rewards for the quest itself are minor, but completing it is linked to the Ice Galaxy quest later in the game, which provides the only place to farm for the game's ultimate spear, a special character, and arguably the game's best two handed sword. That said, different characters have different starting greed values, and even in a casual playthrough most people won't pop over the cap unless they are playing as Harid, who starts right on the threshold. Borrowing from Metastase's post on GameFAQs, everyone other than Harid, Mikhail, and Monica start at 7, with Harid at 14, Mikhail at 4, and Monica at 1. Accepting the bribe in the Thief Cave adds 2 points, haggling when selling the mysterious animals adds 1 per attempt, asking Wood for payment adds 2, and demanding payment from Vanguard's Mayor increases it by up to 3.

    < Mini-Games >

    - ! Merchant Minigame !

    The Merchant Minigame is a semi-hidden minigame unlocked in Pidona once Gon is rescued from the Devil King's Palace for Muse. To begin it, place Thomas in the party and speak to his relative at the table in his house, who will mention a guest in the top-right room. Speaking to this man, Fullbright, will begin the minigame. In it, the player begins their own corporation and must travel to various towns speaking to agents in order to purchase businesses and achieve certain goals, and as certain businesses are taken over the player learns new techniques and forms mini-monopolies that make the process easier.

    There are three stages to the game, each of which rewards the player with 10k gold for completing:

    First, the player must earn 100 million in revenue.
    Second, the player must travel to Wilminton and speak with Fulbright then take over the Dophore Maritime business.
    And, finally, once an Abyss Gate is closed the player can return to Fullbright and has to take over all of the businesses that join the Abyss Ring, denoted by a fancy icon.

    The most important things to know about this minigame are that none of your money is ever spent in it, nor does anything you do ever contribute directly to your party's funds, outside of the completion money. Companies that join you, as well as your allies if you have any from chapter 2 onward, never run out of money, instead having a chance to leave you when you request money from them based on a percentage represented by their color, going black-blue-yellow-red in descending order. Additionally, when you ask for money from an individual business they have a chance of 'glimmering' a group if you have other businesses they are related to in your possession, for instance if you own all of the hotels in the world or all of the iron mines. These groups are where the vast majority of your buying power comes from, as it pulls funds from all of the businesses in a single action and appears to have a multiplier placed on the total output.

    Unfortunately, this section will have to be a work in progress for quite a while, as I'll have to get around to manually testing each business to see what skills and groups they are part of.

    < Formations >

    Formations are used to augment your characters stats, generally increasing defense, speed, and power, and are learned by recruiting certain characters and opening the formation menu while they are in the party. Also of note, running (that is, with the run button) into a non-fixed encounter or being hit from behind will place your party into the default Free Fight formation for that fight and give the enemy priority for the first round of combat; you will also shift to Free Fight formation whenever some joins or leaves your party.

    ! Desert Lance !

    Learned from: Harid

    All characters start with this formation due to everyone recruiting Harid during the introduction; this is the best formation for teams running a high speed tank like Robin and Ellen, as the lead party member is granted a 25% speed boost and takes half damage AFTER they have performed their action -- this makes they extremely deadly with Counter skills, as their activation chance is based on the character's speed, and with a 68% chance of being targeted in the front position they have a good chance of killing most junk mobs without taking any damage. The remaining party members have a 25% speed penalty and 8% chance of being targeted.

    ! Dragon Form !

    Learned from: Herman

    Not going to lie, this is the wonkiest formation and the hardest to build a real strategy around, other than put your big damage dealer in slot 1, as Dragon Form is designed for controlled turn order more than anything else, and that . . . isn't terribly relevant outside of buff spamming. The first party member gets +50% speed and a boost to all damage, the second a 25% boost to speed, the fourth a 25% speed penalty, and the fifth a 50% speed penalty; the lead party member has a 21% chance of being targeted, the other members have a 19.5% chance, which is the common targeting spread.

    ! Free Fight !

    Free fight is the default formation and grants everyone a 25% speed boost, with the 21-19.5% targeting split.

    ! Genbu !

    Learned from: Boston

    Another defensive formation, all characters regenerate around 10% of their max hp each turn and have a 75% speed penalty with the standard 21-19.5% targeting split. This regeneration DOES stack with other end of turn regeneration like Dancing Leaves or the Royal Ring, but I do not believe you can triple dip regeneration by using Commander Mode as well here. It'd be a hell of a thing if you could, though. X _X

    ! Hunter Shift !

    Learned from: Sara, Zhi Lin, Paul (???)

    The archer formation, the back party member has a 25% speed penalty and a 25% increase to bow damage, while the other characters have no stat changes. The formation uses the 21-19.5% targeting split.

    ! Phoenix Dance !

    Learned from: Zo, Fullbright, and Tiberius

    A general contender for the best defensive formation with a tank, the middle character has a 78% chance of being targeted, has a 25% speed penalty, and takes half damage; the front two characters receive a 25% speed boost and have an 8% chance of being targeted; and the back two characters have a 3% chance with no stat changes. Due to the innate speed penalty, this one is generally inferior to Desert Lance for high speed tanks, but works extremely well with big shields, armor suits, and high CON values. (*coughcoughZocoughcough*)

    ! Power Raise !

    Learned from: Sharl, Undine

    The mage formation, this uses the 21-19.5 split, gives the back party member a 25% speed penalty and 25% boost to magic damage, and grants the front two characters a 25% speed boost. This formation is especially useful with Bai Meiling if you chose to rush the Far East events as early as possible, as she can reliably keep the Armor's trash mobs at bay with the damage boost if you can keep her alive.

    ! Speculation !

    Learned from: Fairy (possibly also Shonen, but don't bother)

    Speculation is a fantastic offensive formation, probably the best honestly, granting the first party member a 50% boost to speed and around a 25% melee damage boost (and a 39% chance of being targeted, ick), the second and third a 25% speed and melee damage boost with a 19.5% of being targeted, and the final 2 characters have -25% speed and an 11% chance of being targeted. The rushdown potential with this formation is simply incredible once you have solid damage dealing skills, and martial artists in particular love the front slot here, as they double dip on damage boosts since speed plays into their damage formula anyway.

    ! Tiger Cave !

    Learned from: Mikhail, Nora

    Another fantastic defensive formation, Tiger's Cave cuts all members' speed by 75% and reduces incoming damage by 50% until they act, with the common 21-19.5% targeting split. This formation is especially useful in conjunction with armor suits, as you are already investing in heavy armors with huge defense and speed penalties, and this combination makes your team extremely difficult to kill, especially once you get ahold of Troll Stones or Moon Bones.

    ! Tri-Anchor !

    Learned from: Robin, Fat Robin

    The most bizarre defensive formation and generally only useful in Commander Mode, Tri Anchor gives all of your party members a defense boost until they attack and the back two members a 25% speed penalty, with the common 21-19.5% targeting split.

    ! Whirlwind !

    Learned from: Julian, Ellen, Thomas

    And finally, the Whirlwind formation is a defensively enhanced version of Free Fight, granting your party the same 25% speed boost while shifting up targeting chances to 21.5% for the middle character, 25.5% for the front two, and 14% for the rear two. If you don't have any other formation you want to be using, this is the best option, as there are no downsides to it and you have some control of who is being swung at.


    And finally, all credit where it is due, all information here, particularly the numbers, comes from two sources, and both include additional information I'm not going to put here, so they are:

    Midic's excellent 'Filling in a few FAQ Gaps' thread, which contains additional information on the non-five member formations
    Kagon's RS3 RPG Shrine, which is still the best one-stop location for information on the game and contains a ton of information related to Commander Mode multitechs.

    < Magic >

    ! Earth Magic !

    Earth magic is notable for offering the highest single target spell damage in the game alongside plenty of support options, so it is a generally strong pickup for any mages in the party and one of the two schools I recommend as a 'default' unless you have another particular function you are looking for.

    - Stone Bullet -

    40 spell power; 1 TP; No additional effects

    Stone Bullet is an unexciting tier 1 spell, but it does upgrade at level 20 to hit all targets, which significantly upgrades its usability.

    - Berserk -

    STR, CON+8+(Earth/5); 3 JP; Stackable; buffs decrease by 1/4th each round

    Logically this spell should be better than it is, the problem is that, due to buff falloff, it requires a fast character casting it to get the most out of it, and that character very well might be inflicting greater damage by just attacking. It is notable that Axe users double dip on this buff though, as the STR increase ups both their damage and accuracy, and the class is notoriously inaccurate.

    - Stone Skin -

    DEF+10+(Earth/8); 3JP; Slowly petrifies the target; Buff does NOT fade over time

    Petrification is a bit of a pain in the ass in this game, but it generally takes more than a few turns for it to kick in, and the 10 point defense boost isn't insignificant -- 50 defense is around where I end the game, and this gives 1/5th of that with 0 ranks in Earth magic. It is especially useful in Tank formations like Desert Lance or Phoenix Dance, or if you want a bit more sturdiness on your mages or monks.

    - Crack -

    100 spell power; 4 JP; Attacks in a line, cannot hit flying enemies, can inflict Stun

    Crack will likely be your first AoE spell in the Earth school, and it is a decently solid offensive option, especially on faster characters who can get their attacks off before the enemy and potentially stun something. The biggest downside to the spell is the large number of flying enemies in the game, however this does make the spell pair well with Wind and Fire magic users, as both have spells specially designed for flying foes.

    - Earth Heal -

    4 JP; Heals Sleep at level 15; Heals Paralysis at level 30

    A fairly decent recovery spell, the real problem with it comes from both Sun and Moon having stronger options, albeit at a higher cost, though Earth Heal does get rid of better statuses than Moonshine.

    - Gold Touch -

    25% accuracy; 4; Petrifies the target, gives additional gold at the end of the battle

    One of the most surprising things about this game is how utterly usable instant death attacks are, and this one is available out the gate and has the upside of giving you a little bit of extra money when you kill something with it. Also should work on undead foes, but I'll have to check that one. Do also note that 25% accuracy is only the spells BASE accuracy, and it is modified by both player and target stats, so it is usually far more accurate than it initially appears.

    -Super Gravity -

    1000 spell power; 9 jp; -5 speed on target

    Yeah, that's correct, in a game where most 'big damage' spells are between 100 and 400 power this one has 1k, and it is the big payoff for using Earth magic, making it the most potent offensive school in the game.

    ! Fire Magic !

    For whatever reason and against all expectation, Fire magic is the least offensive oriented school in the game, instead focusing almost entirely on support, and this, sadly, makes it a fairly hard school to use effectively, as most of the skills simply aren't worth the investment due to buff fading and nearly every skill having a negative limiting factor. The school is still usuable, just be aware of what you are walking into with it.

    - Air Slash -

    60 spell power; 1 JP; Bonus damage to fliers, damages a column at level 20.

    This is spell is actually fairly decent as a base line damage skill, as there are a lot of fliers that don't appreciate the bonus damage they take from this.

    - Hard Fire -

    SPD+5+(Fire/4); 2 JP; No additional features

    This buff is especially valuable to monks, characters using counter skills, and people in the lead of the Desert Lance formation, as it grants a slight damage boost to the first, bonus activation rate to the second, and a potential defense boost to the third if it allows them to act before they are damaged. Unfortunately, getting the most out of this spell also requires the user to act before the person they are buffing, due to the dropoff, which is unlikely as the people in these three situations are likely built for speed anyway, or using speed boosting formations, so its value is a bit dubious.

    - Self Burning -

    5 JP; targets the caster; grants a Magic Shield against fire; Counter attack

    Did my testing on this, and I was correct -- this spell is hot garbage. First, what it does: it grants the user a fire magical shield that counters *A* melee physical attack. Until that counter is spent the user is immune to fire damage. Next, the problems with it. IF the counter triggers before you take your action for the turn, you LOSE your action for the turn; the counter itself is extremely weak; it does not apply regeneration in a fire field like the other elemental shields; and, unlike all other magic shields, it provides no evasion bonuses. To put this into perspective, this spell behaves identical to the magical shield on the Ice Sword, which is a PENALTY applied to the equipped character to balance the weapon out. Everything this skill does Fire Wall does better.

    - Bird Song -

    4 spell power; 3 JP; First strike, inflicts silence, hits ALL targets

    There is no spell in this game with more misinformation running around on it -- I've seen people say it cures statuses (it damages sleeping party members, so it might fix that), I've heard it increases magic defense, I've heard it applies stat buffs. No. It does none of those things. It goes first and attempts to silence all foes on the field, and by silence I mean it stops the spell they are attempting to cast that turn. That actually makes the spell fantastic, because there are a ton of important enemies that drop AoE sleep spells and Squall, and shutting those down before they go off and effectively skipping that opponent's turn is extremely powerful for 3 JP. It is so powerful, in fact, that every enemy this WOULD be valuable against is, in fact, completely immune to the skill, so you just silence your party instead. Early in the game this may be able to stop some Wind Darts, but that's . . . really all it has going for it. And it is too bad, because this would have been a bomb ass skill otherwise.

    - Feather Seal -

    3 JP; grants invisibility to target

    Does what it says on the tin, preventing the invisible character from being directly targeted until they attack -- my testing with Power Heal shows that healing skills, at the very least, do not break invisibility. This spell is actually fairly neat, as it allows one to invis up a squishy healer / buffer, or in the Power Raise formation to use a speed boosted front member to stealth up the slow back member for safety. The effect isn't SUPER useful, due to AoE still whacking the stealth member, but that doesn't break the invisibility so . . . I dunno, the spell is fine if you can find the right use for it.

    - Fire Wall -

    7 JP; protects the party from ice and fire attacks, damages enemy front column at level 20

    This is the offensive option in the school, and, as you can see, its offensive side doesn't kick in until late in the game and is fairly limited as it is untargeted and doesn't activate until the end of the turn. I also have no data on its spell power as an attack. That said, even outside of the attack portion of the spell it has uses, as Red Dragons and Gwayne both love AoE flame attacks and this shuts that down, which makes some of the more dangerous enemies in the game complete jokes, provided the caster is faster than them. All in all not a bad skill, but, like most of the school, limited in application.

    - Reviver -

    16 JP; heals an ally when they die

    The big payoff for fire magic is the classic Life 3 effect, auto-reviving a fallen party member. It is as good as it sounds and alone makes fire a worthwhile investment if you are picking up damage from your solar school; I do believe the final boss wipes this buff on transformation, as she takes out nearly everything else as well, so be aware of that.

    ! Moon Magic !

    Moon magic is an extremely strong school, likely THE strongest in the game as every character can benefit significantly from its final spell. It is the other school I recommend as a 'default' for characters if you have no other plans for them.

    - Shadow Bolt -

    40 spell power; 1 JP; Silence

    Another decent tier 1 spell, not much else to say about it, other than, much like Bird Song, the silence isn't reliable here either, although it can actually HIT everything.

    - Moon Glow -

    SPD, WIL+4+(Moon/4); 2 JP; No other effects

    This is a similar boost to Hard Fire, only much better, as the WIL boost increases the accuracy of status inflicting spells. This can help out Nap users a fair bit, so it has that added to what was said about Hard Fire earlier, though, again, its overall use is fairly limited.

    - Soul Freeze -

    180 Spell power; 6 JP; Inflicts paralysis at level 20

    Soul Freeze is a decently reliale AoE spell and a good offensive suppliment to schools lacking solid AoE options like Earth and Fire, and the high rank paralysis can be occasionally helpful if you focus on the school enough to level it up by the early mid game.

    - Moon Shine -

    Heal Skill; 5 JP; Heals darkness at rank 20

    Frankly, the darkness heal here is irrelevant -- no enemies really apply it after the early game and a significant number of techs ignore accuracy checks anyway. That said, a reliable heal is a reliable heal, and the one here is the strongest, in theory, you can pick up.

    - Moon Read -

    1/8th target's max hp; 2 JP; Gravity attack

    First off, much like with Gold Touch earlier, that 1/8th is before stats, resistances, and defenses are taken into account, so it will often inflict significantly less damage than that. Second, all gravity attacks in RS3 deal damage based on the target's MAX hp, not its current HP like in the Final Fantasy series, so they can both deal devastatingly high damage to certain targets AND kill things. Third, many end game enemies ARE susceptible to the attack, to the point that it is the best way to kill of several top tier monsters, especially if you are farming high end gear. Once this spell is unlocked in the Far East it can easily replace Shadow Bolt as the basic offensive spell for the school.

    - Charm Light -

    75% Accuracy; Charm skill; targets all valid enemies.

    This spell might interesting to build around, as charm is a powerful status that does seem to work on a fair-ish number of targets. The biggest problem is knowing the sex of most enemies, as charm targets opponent's of the opposite sex and I have no idea how a genderless target is defined. Oh, and attacks like this rely exclusively on the CHR stat to determine their accuracy, and there are extremely limited options for boosting that in the game -- the Golden Dragon and Devil King Armors both come to mind, as do the Clown Shoes, I believe they are called, but only one of those is easy to prioritize early game, especially since it has to be obtained to complete the Far East quests where Charm Light is obtained anyway.

    - Shadow Servant -

    The most powerful spell in game, Shadow Servant creates a double of the caster that mimics all of their actions, effectively doubling the power of whatever they do. The spell ALSO absorbs most attacks for the caster, protecting them and sacrificing itself in the process, making it both a single use shield AND offensive buff until it is popped.

    ! Sun Magic !

    Know what's kind of sad? Sun Magic is good, like, REALLY good, but it isn't Moon Magic, and it is forced into direct competition with it. You can't go wrong with the school, but you will be losing a ton of damage if you do so. That said . . .

    - Sunshine -

    40 spell power; 1 JP; bonus damage to undead

    Sunshine is one of the two AoE starting spells, excepting high level Earth Bullet, and it is . . . decent, though it is generally outclassed by Squall for AoE damage since Sunshine cannot removal elemental fields.

    - Heat Wave -

    100 spell power; 4 JP; -5 speed to targets

    Heat wave is basically an upgraded Sunshine, and so worth making use of whenever you have the JP to cover it. It loses its anti-undead property, but the raw damage increase more than makes up for that, as does the potential for the speed drop on the enemy team, unless you happen to be in the Tiger Cave formation or something.

    - Star Fixer -

    220 spell power; 5 JP; Paralysis

    Sun magic's general single target DPT spell, again there isn't much to say here other than it is a decent enough investment if your elemental school lacks a solid damage option, though once you have enough JP it is completely outclassed by . . .

    - Solar Wind -

    400 spell power; 9 JP; Confusion

    The second most damaging spell behind Super Gravity, AND it is AoE. The price is a bit high, but you pay for your power. Not much else to say here, this is the big payoff skill over the school's final spell.

    - Day Break -

    20% accuracy; 7 JP; Instant death on all enemies

    If you are investing in Sun magic, pick this skill up first. Seriously, just do it. As with other skills like this, that 20% is only base accuracy and this works on a TON of enemies through the early and mid game, and it even kills several bosses. There are a lot of quests you can complete far earlier than otherwise possible with this skill alone and I'd argue it is one of the best spells in the entire game, if only for how far it and fast it gets you through the early game. Just pay attention when it fails to kill something: if it displays a message under the target it merely missed, they aren't immune. Also, this spell does NOT work on the undead, while Gold Touch does.

    - Revival Light -

    7 JP; Recovers HP and status

    The best heal in the game, not in terms of strength but overall use, as it also cures all statuses other than petrify on the target.

    - Illusion Sun -

    11 JP; caster only magical shield

    A nifty spell that grants the user a magical shield, which can block most physical and magical attacks. It doesn't grant regeneration like the other shields do, but, to my knowledge, it also doesn't require an elemental field to work either. It also stacks with normal shields.

    ! Water Magic !

    Water magic leans on the supportive side of the spectrum, but it has better offensive options than the similar Fire school. Most notably this is one of the schools that greatly benefits from having multiple users of it in the party, and is oddly beneficial to non-mages due to Quicktime.

    - Squall -

    0 Spell power; 1 JP; AoE

    The spells damage may be low, but Squall makes up for it by having an oddly high chance of flipping elemental fields, at least to my observation. This is fairly beneficial to Water mages, as they have access to a fantastic elemental shield that requires a water elemental field to function, and it stops three of the four Abyss Lords' regeneration relatively easily.

    - Life Water -

    Hp Recovery; 1 JP; Heals sleep at 15 and paralysis at 30

    Technically the weakest healing spell, for what little that matters, it is also free for mages with Magical Crowns, something that gives it a bit of a niche over the other options, although Life Cane's offer the same perk.

    - Mystic Water -

    Status recovery; 3 JP; Cures all statuses other than Stone

    Does what it says on the tin, though I also seem to recall this being able to remove invisble statuses as well, such as the slow petrify from Stone Skin and buffs / debuffs, which Revival Light cannot do.

    - Water Pole -

    6 JP; regeneration and magical shield in a water elemental field.

    A contender for the best defensive spell in the game, Water Poke gives a target character a chance to avoid physical and magical attacks, as well as end of turn regeneration, in water elemental fields. This contributes a surprising amount of durability to a charcter and ends up more useful than Illusion Sun because you can cast it on other party members. It is also one of the reasons multiple water mages play well together, as you can not only drop multiple Poles in one turn, but you are likely going to swap the elemental field to water without trying.

    - Sparkling Mist -

    2 JP; enemy DEX - (Water/3)

    Uuhhhhhh, not an especially useful debuff, especially since, unlike buffs, they do not stack, so this drop is minor until around skill level 15 or so. Another problem with this skill is that the idea is, in theory, that it lowers the accuracy of enemy physical attacks, but enough formulas ignore accuracy checks that it isn't even especially good for this. I mean, it is decent at it, but generally speaking there aren't any important enemies this skill seriously hampers, nor are their any strategies that particularly benefit from it, so it is ultimately completely worth skipping.

    - Thunderclap -

    180 spell power; 7 JP; AoE and Silence

    Water magic's other attack, Thunderclap is fairly decent attack, just don't expect that Silence to especially matter.

    - Quicktime -

    All JP; all alies act first

    This skill actually does two things: it grants priority to all party members, based on a number of turns relative to how much JP was spent to cast it, AND it skips the turn of all enemies that have not acted yet on the turn it is cast -- and there is NO defense against this attack. This means that five party members with this spell can skip, assuming the first person is fast enough, five enemy turns. The limiting factor here is that it takes all JP to cast, which means it is TERRIBLE for mages as there is no way to restore JP mid battle, but is excellent for non mages, although it doesn't work well with Shadow Servant, as you won't be able to replace a popped one.

    ! Wind Magic !

    The last elemental school, Wind Magic is most similar to Earth, having a solid mix of offensive and defensive options, and I would argue it as the best elemental magic if Earth didn't get Super Gravity.

    - Wind Dart -

    60 spell power; 1 JP; deals an additional hit every 5 levels

    Kind of interesting, as its damage scales with level moreso than other skills and it deals respectable damage for a 1 JP spell through the whole game, though never exceptional.

    - Nap -

    50% accuracy; 3 JP; Sleep on all enemies

    Fairly accurate and useful, as enough enemies are vulnerable to sleep.

    Last edited by Rez09; 07-22-2018 at 09:10 PM.

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