Skill System of Underworld I and II

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The Skill System of Ultima Underworld I and Ultima Underworld II is one of the core features of the games. Hard decisions have to be made concerning in which direction the Avatar has to develop. However, the skills have very different usefulness, and some of them aren't needed at all. Therefore a list of the skills, how to get them, and how useful they are is essential.

The Skill system[edit]

The skill system in Underworld is based on a 0 to 30 range for skill values. Attempts to use a non-combat skill have certain probabilities of success, and every point you have in the relevant skill adds one chance in 30 to this probability. The base difficulty might vary from task to task; each locked door has its own difficulty of picking, each type of creature has a certain chance to be detected by track skill, and so forth; but it is generally the case that 1 point of skill adds 1 chance in 30 to your chance of success.

Combat works somewhat differently. Each creature type has a certain chance to hit and be hit in combat. Assuming you swing in a monster's general vicinity, your change to hit is adjusted upward by 1 to 30 steps (as many steps as half your attack skill plus your specific weapon skill), while your change to avoid being hit is adjusted downward (also by 1 to 30 steps) by your defense skill plus half your weapon skill.

When you train in a skill, the number of skill points you gain depends somewhat on the value of the underlying ability score (Strength for combat skills, Intelligence for magic skills and dexterity for all other skills). You will tend to advance very quickly until your skill is equal to half of the underlying ability score, then advance a more slowly until you reach the same value as the ability score, and then advance very slowly thereafter.

Combat Skills[edit]

Combat skills are the most important in both games. Without them, you are soon dead. While it is absolutely needed to train Attack and Defense, it is best to specialize on only one weapon type and stick with it. It has to be added that the weapons aren't balanced. Missile weapons are far too weak, useless if stronger enemies come into melee range, and need ammunition. While winning with unarmed combat is possible, it is a pain. The chosen weapon skill should be trained to the maximum.


Mantra in Underworld I: RA

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Geoffrey

Comments: Very important! The more you have, the more effective you are in hitting and hurting your opponents.


Mantra in Underworld I: ANRA

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Geoffrey

Comments: Less important than Attack, but still important. It determines how big the chance of stopping a blow is, while not swinging the weapon.


Mantra in Underworld I: AMO

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Syria, Lobar (is better than Syria)

Comments: This skill determines, together with Attack and Defense, how well the Avatar can use sword weapons. Thanks to the imbalance of weapons, with Caliburn in Underworld I and the Sword of Stone Strike in Underworld II, it is the most useful weapons skill, also because many good swords are available early.


Mantra in Underworld I: COH

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Dupre, Fighters in Pits of Carnage (after getting respect)

Comments: This is a real alternative to swords, should one ignore the Sword of Stone Strike. The are several interesting maces, with the Mace of Undead Bane being one of the best.


Mantra in Underworld I: GAR

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Dupre, Fighters in Pits of Carnage (after getting respect)

Comments: This is a real alternative to swords, should one ignore the Sword of Stone Strike. The strongest axe available is the Axe of Firedoom, which should only be used while wearing the Leather Vest of Flameproof.


Mantra in Underworld I: FAHM

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Iolo

Comments: Missile weapons aren't any good; see the notes at the top of the category. So better avoid them.


Mantra in Underworld I: ORA

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Syria, Garg

Comments: Unarmed combat is sheer desperation. While survival is possible, this skill should be ignored.

Magic Skills[edit]

Magic skills are very important in both games, since using magic is the best way to survive and make progress. Magic also can replace numerous of the other skills and is very versatile. Therefore, both skills rank very high on the importance list and should be maxed out.


Mantra in Underworld I: SOL

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Nystul, Altara

Comments: Casting is as the name says, casting ability. The skill essentially raises the chance of successfully casting a spell. It is a must have, as only with it the more complicated spells can be safely cast. It also is a protection against spell failure and backfires (which is the worst that could happen). So train to the maximum for your own good.


Mantra in Underworld I: IMU

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Nystul, Altara

Comments: The higher the Avatar raises this skill, the more mana that is available for casting. More mana is a must have in both games, so it should be smart to get this skill to maximum.

Other Skills[edit]

These are the remaining skills. Some are good, some are average and numerous are utterly pointless and should be avoided.


Mantra in Underworld I: ROMM

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Julia, Fissif

Comments: Allows the finding and defusing of traps. The skill is pointless, as there are next to no traps. And the traps encountered only deal minor damage.


Mantra in Underworld I: AAM

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Julia, Fissif

Comments: Enables the Avatar to use lockpicks to jimmy locks on doors and chests. The higher the skill, the better the chances of success. Actually, this skill is totally pointless, since lockpicks are difficult to find, sturdy doors can be bashed in and the Open spell can be found quite early in the game, being much better than any lockpick available. In Ultima Underworld II, the Cudgel of Opening becomes better than any lockpick or spell.


Mantra in Underworld I: LON

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Julia

Comments: Allows the usage of an anvil (for example, in Shak's forge, Castle Britannia armoury, and the Prison Tower) to repair items. The higher it is, the better the chance of success. Failure damages the item. The spell Mend functions similarly to Repair, but is not limited by the skill's imposed restrictions.


Mantra in Underworld I: UN

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Patterson, Lady Tory

Comments: Charisma allows the Avatar to get lower prices when trading. The more more points are invested, the better the prices are. It is up to you if you want to invest points into this skill, as the effect isn't noticeable until considerable investment of training points. Also, both trainers disappear from the game after certain point so training Charisma beyond that is impossible.


Mantra in Underworld I: LAHN

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Nelson, Ogri

Comments: This is one of the most useful skills available. It allows the Avatar to identify objects. The higher the skill, the more objects can be identified. This is very useful in both games, as paying Shak, Dominus or Merzan to identify the items is very costly. Also, it is very convenient to identify items at once and save yourself lots of walking around. It should be trained to the maximum.

Alternatively, the spell Name Enchantment can be used.


Mantra in Underworld I: LU

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Nelson

Comments: It allows the Avatar to find secret doors and switches much easier. Without this skill, it is almost impossible to find the better hidden doors, so some points should be invested into it. Also, you have to be quick in Underworld II, as Nelson isn't there for the whole game.


Mantra in Underworld I: FAL

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Fissif

Comments: Learning this skill negates the damage normally received from falling and allows higher jumping. The higher the skill, the better both attributes work. It should be smart to invest some points into this one, otherwise you'll get hurt very often, even when falling from a small ledge.


Mantra in Underworld I: SAHF

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Unnamed Goblin

Comments: It is supposed to allow the Avatar to determine where the enemies are, but it obviously doesn't work. At higher levels, it tells what kind of enemy is near. A token training is needed in Ultima Underworld II to get the Order Serpent, but that's it.


Mantra in Underworld I: ONO

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Iolo

Comments: It doesn't actually affect the speed with which the Avatar swims. Instead it determines how long the hero can swim before starting to take damage. The skill is pointless since in both games there isn't much swimming at the beginning and you get the Water Walk spell very early, thus negating the need to swim.


Mantra in Underworld I: HUNN

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Iolo

Comments: Using this skill, the Avatar can gauge if making a good or a bad deal while trading with someone, before making an offer. However, the skill is totally useless. In Ultima Underworld I, trading usually is pointless and the few times it is needed, there is no haggling. In Ultima Underworld II, it's the same and the only important merchant, Merzan, has fixed prices.


Mantra in Underworld I: MUL

Trainer(s) in Underworld II: Fissif

Comments: This skill is supposed to make it harder for the enemy to become aware of the Avatar. However, the need for light makes the skill useless anyway, as light makes the enemy aware at once. Also, you want to engage your enemies, making this skill even further useless.