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 ones the Avatar develops. The skills have very different usefulness and some of them aren't useful 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 non-combat skills have a certain probability of success and every point the Avatar has 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 and so forth; but it is generally the case that 1 point of skill adds 1 chance in 30 to the chance of success.

Combat works somewhat differently. Each creature type has a certain chance to hit and be hit in combat. Assuming the Avatar swings in a monster's general vicinity, his/her chance to hit increases by 1 to 30 units (as many units as half his/her attack skill plus his/her specific weapon skill), while his/her chance to avoid being hit increases (also by 1 to 30 units) by his/her defense skill plus half the weapon skill.

When the Avatar trains in a skill, the number of skill points he/she gains depends somewhat on the value of the underlying ability score (Strength for combat skills, Intelligence for magic skills and Dexterity for all other skills). Skills tend to advance very quickly until they reach equal to half of the underlying ability score, then advance more slowly until the same value as the ability score is reached, and then advance very slowly thereafter.

Combat Skills[edit]

Combat skills are the most important in both games. 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 unarmed combat is possible, it is not ideal.

Attack[edit]

Description: The more points, the more effective the Avatar is in hitting and hurting his/her opponents. Adds 1/2 its value to your odds to hit in combat, with all weapons.

UU1 mantra: RA

UU2 trainer(s): Geoffrey

Comments: While it is useful, it is a very poor choice, cost wise, to invest your skill points in. This is because it adds only 1/2 to your attack odds per point; a weapon skill adds 1 per point to your odds, and adds 1/2 per point to your defense to boot. You are much better off picking one weapon skill and investing solely in that. 30 points spent on atttack would cost only 15 points on a weapon skill for the same to-hit bonus, leaving you 15 points to spend on other skills (actually, you would have even more, due to how the skill progression slows when skills get higher). Regardless of which (melee) weapon skill you choose, you will find plenty of interesting weapons over the course of a playthrough.

Defense[edit]

Description: It determines how big the chance of stopping a blow is, while not swinging the weapon.

UU1 mantra: ANRA

UU2 trainer(s): Geoffrey

Comments: Increases your defense at a 1 to 1 ratio (twice that of a weapon skill). This and a weapon skill are the only ways to make you harder to hit.

Sword[edit]

Description: Together with Attack and Defense, this skill determines how well the Avatar can use sword weapons.

UU1 mantra: AMO

UU2 trainer(s): Syria, Lobar (is better than Syria)

Comments: 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. Also, in UWII, the trainer Lobar is special, in that he always adds 1 more point to the sword skill, on top of however many points you would normally gain. This makes sword the easiest weapon skill to maximize.

Mace[edit]

Description: The are several interesting maces, with the "Mace of Undead Bane" being one of the best.

UU1 mantra: COH

UU2 trainer(s): 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".

Axe[edit]

Description: The strongest axe available is the Axe of Firedoom, which should only be used while wearing the Leather Vest of Flameproof.

UU1 mantra: GAR

UU2 trainer(s): 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".

Missile[edit]

Description:

UU1 mantra: FAHM

UU2 trainer(s): Iolo

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

Unarmed[edit]

Description:

UU1 mantra: ORA

UU2 trainer(s): 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.

Casting[edit]

Description: This skill essentially raises the chance of successfully casting a spell. It also is a protection against spell failure and backfires (which is the worst that could happen).

UU1 mantra: SOL

UU2 trainer(s): Nystul, Altara

Comments: It is a must have, as only with it the more complicated spells can be safely cast. So train to the maximum is advised.

Mana[edit]

Description: The higher the Avatar raises this skill, the more mana he/she will have available for casting.

UU1 mantra: IMU

UU2 trainer(s): Nystul, Altara

Comments: More mana is a must-have in both games, so it is advised to get this skill to the maximum.

Other Skills[edit]

These are the remaining skills. The higher a skill is, the better the chance of success. Some are good, some are average and numerous are utterly pointless and should be avoided.

Lore[edit]

Description: It allows the Avatar to identify objects. The higher the skill, the more objects can be identified.

UU1 mantra: LAHN

UU2 trainer(s): Nelson, Ogri

Comments: very useful. This is one of the most useful skills available. 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 lots of walking around. It should be trained to the maximum. Alternatively, the spell Name Enchantment can be used.

Search[edit]

Description: It allows the Avatar to find secret doors and switches much more easily.

UU1 mantra: LU

UU2 trainer(s): Nelson

Comments: worthless. This skill is pointless, as it is possible to find every secret door in the game easily with a zero in this skill.

Acrobat[edit]

Description: Learning this skill negates the damage normally received from falling and allows higher jumping. The higher the skill, the better both attributes work.

UU1 mantra: FAL

UU2 trainer(s): Fissif

Comments: useful. It is generally a good investment, otherwise the Avatar will get hurt very often, even when falling from a small ledge.

Repair[edit]

Description: Allows the usage of an anvil (for example, in Shak's forge, Castle Britannia armoury, and the Prison Tower) to better repair items. Failure damages the item.

UU1 mantra: LON

UU2 trainer(s): Julia

Comments: average. The spell Mend functions similarly to Repair, but is not limited by the skill's imposed restrictions.

Charisma[edit]

Description: Charisma allows the Avatar to get lower prices when trading. The more more points are invested, the better the prices are.

UU1 mantra: UN

UU2 trainer(s): Patterson, Lady Tory

Comments: average. Its effect isn't noticeable until a considerable investment of training points. Also, both trainers disappear from the game after a certain point so training Charisma beyond that is impossible.

Track[edit]

Description: At low levels, it doesn't work. At higher levels, it tells what kind of enemy is near (it does not determine where the enemies are).

UU1 mantra: SAHF

UU2 trainer(s): Unnamed Goblin

Comments: almost useless. A token training is needed in Ultima Underworld II to get the Order Serpent, but it's not very useful.

Traps[edit]

Description: Allows the finding and defusing of traps.

UU1 mantra: ROMM

UU2 trainer(s): Julia, Fissif

Comments: useless. The skill is pointless because there are next to no traps. The traps encountered only deal minor damage.

Picklock[edit]

Description: Enables the Avatar to use lockpicks to jimmy locks on doors and chests.

UU1 mantra: AAM

UU2 trainer(s): Julia, Fissif

Comments: useless. Due to the fact that lockpicks are anyway difficult to come by, sturdy doors can be bashed in and the Open spell can be found quite early in the game, this skill is useless. In Ultima Underworld II, the Cudgel of Opening becomes better than any lockpick or spell.

Swimming[edit]

Description: It determines how long the Avatar can swim before starting to take damage (it does not affect swimming speed).

UU1 mantra: ONO

UU2 trainer(s): Iolo

Comments: useless. The Avatar can acquire the Water Walk spell very early, thus negating the need to swim.

Appraise[edit]

Description: Using this skill, the Avatar can gauge if he/she is making a good or a bad deal while trading with someone, before making an offer.

UU1 mantra: HUNN

UU2 trainer(s): Iolo

Comments: useless. Trading is usually pointless, and the few times it is needed there is no haggling. In Ultima Underworld II, the only important merchant, Merzan, has fixed prices.

Stealth[edit]

Description: This skill is supposed to make it harder for the enemy to become aware of the Avatar.

UU1 mantra: MUL

UU2 trainer(s): Fissif

Comments: useless. The need for light makes the skill useless anyway, as light makes the enemy aware at once.