I decided to do another playthrough of Rogue Legacy, this time focusing on the Archmage class. Earlier, I had done the same thing for the Paladin class: play as a single job type with each venture through the dungeon, killing off any heirs who didn't randomly roll the designated class. This allowed me to investigate the ins and outs of the gameplay for the Paladin in much more detail, as well as customize my upgrades and equipment choices specifically for that class, and I hoped to do the same thing here for the Archmage. This is a job that focuses heavily on casting spells as opposed to attacking physically, and would be very different indeed from the previous Paladin undertaking. All classes in this game (other than the Paladin) have bonuses and penalties to certain stats. For the Archmage, the following stats have these permanent modifiers:
This is a bit of a raw deal, since you suffer a 50% penalty to health and physical damage, while only getting a 25% bonus to magic damage on spellcasts. The very low health of this character class makes the Archmage extremely fragile, and that would be a real issue throughout this quest. You're essentially forced to rely on casting spells at a distance, since you can't survive very many hits, and trading with your melee weapon (which also gets a 50% penalty to damage) just isn't very attractive as an option. Here's a look at the stats for a Level 0 mage:
The default starting values for a Paladin are 100 health, 100 mana, 25 strength, and 25 intelligence. (You can compare here to the starting image from my Paladin run to see this in action.) The picture above demonstrates the various stat penalties/bonuses in action. The 150 mana was quite nice, but otherwise this was almost entirely bad news. Only 50 maximum hit points to begin? Only 12 damage per swing of the sword? Yikes! Talk about a brutal start. And it wasn't as if I could cast my way through every problem either, as the typical spell costs 15 MP and I only had 150 max mana to play around with. This was going to take some careful play at the start of this run.
The Archmage has two other innate abilities. First of all, Archmages get 3 points of innate Siphon, which means that each monster kill restores 6 mana. This is very much appreciated, but it still doesn't solve the problem of spells costing 15 or more MP and restoring back only 6 MP per kill. Even if you never miss and get one hit = one kill, it's still not a sustainable rate. I would need either more Siphon points or more mana to resolve this problem going forward. Secondly, after upgrade a Mage to an Archmage, you have the innate ability to cycle through three different spells. The Archmage is the only class that can do this, everyone else is stuck with whatever they get on the loading screen. This is an ability that takes some skill to use to maximum effect, but would obviously be enormously useful with practice down the road. Comboing different spells together on the fly was something that I'd have to learn to master with these characters. Anyway, time to get started!
0) Level 0: 0g
Sir Lee the Knight was unceremoniously killed off at the start of the game, in the hopes of his descendant rolling the Mage class. Fortunately, he produced two sons who were Mages, and I selected the one that had the better looking traits.
1) Level 0: 480g
Gay, Gigantism. This character certainly was an interesting experience. I quickly found that playing the game with 50 HP was an interesting task indeed, since I could take all of three hits before dying. An average monster attack would do 20 damage, for the curious. I turned up several chickens in the castle, only to find that each one restored all of 5 health. Uh, thanks? Heh. Anyway, after playing in NG++ mode with my Paladin series, the monsters here were cake, but I had no double jump or dash, and that meant navigating the castle's own hazards were rough. I took a hit from floor spikes, and another hit from a bouncing spiked ball, and that was enough to kill me when the latter hit did over 30 damage. This first Mage had the flame circle spell for his special ability, and although that did kill enemies pretty well, I didn't have enough magic points to use it for very long. Had to do most fighting with the sword. I grabbed the minimal possible basic unlocks on the "castle" upgrade tree, plus the Squire Helm because that gave me +10 health, and going from 55 to 65 health was pretty significant. (The in-game text states that it gives you +20 health, which would be the case for most classes, but that gets cut in half because of the -50% health penalty that Mages suffer from. Argh!)
Unlock: Smithy, Health Up, Upgrade Knight, Equip Up, Squire Helm
2) Level 4 (Health 1, Equip 1, Miscellaneous 2): 80g
Eid Memory, lets you see enemies as red dots on the minimap. This Mage had the axe as her spell, which was probably more useful than the flame circle for the moment. Amazingly, I found an HP increase inside a normal chest in the second room of this run. I was not expecting that, to say the least. That was the only thing this character achieved, because the next room had one of the top-tier shooting box enemies, the one that fires homing shots, and that hit me and did 39 damage, instantly killing me. What the heck was that all about?! I had 80 gold in hand, and needed 90 gold to unlock the Enchantress. That was just sad.
3) Level 4 (Health 1, Equip 1, Miscellaneous 2): 2690g
Dextrocardia, Baldness. Four straight Knaves were killed off before finally rolling another Mage, this one with the axe for a spell, and for a change Dextrocardia was really useful. (It swaps your HP and MP pools, which meant I now had 157 HP and 68 MP instead of the reverse - yay!) This worked really well, and I was able to make great progress through the castle with this character. Landed my first rune in a fairy chest, where I was able to use the axe to complete a "kill all the enemies" challenge with monsters in other unreachable locations. Hits with the sword still only did 12 damage though, which wasn't much. The axe did 31 damage, for comparison purposes. Yes, definitely a spellcaster here. It was not unusual to require four or five hits per monster kill. Anyway, I found the boss door to the castle, and the Knight Bracers were in one of the two chests immediately outside. That piece of equipment meant more for this character, since the Bracers are the ones that primarily boost the Intelligence stat and causes your spells to deal more damage. This run went so well that I full cleared the castle and made it into the forest, where it was taking a good eight swings to defeat the shield guys and the chain guys swinging the spiked balls. Managed to find the Squire Chestplate in there as well, although when I finally took a hit from the running wolf enemies, they did 37 damage to me against the 12 damage I was doing to them. Yeah, probably ventured further than I was expected to get on this run! I dropped all the way to 4 health at one point, went back and raided the saved up chickens back in the castle, and kept on going. I cleared out quite a few rooms in the forest, but finally died before reaching the boss door. Awesome run!
There was a lot of gold to parcel out, and I used it for all kinds of important unlocks. First of all, I was able to get the Archmage upgrade, which allows you to use the Special key to cycle between three different spells. This is extremely important for Archmages to have, since you can swap depending on the needs of the moment. I also unlocked the Enchantress (technically that had to come before the Archmage upgrade), which let me grab the two default runes and also purchase the third Vault Rune that I had found in the castle. My Archmages could triple jump and dash now, much appreciated when dodging traps and spikes and whatnot. I also puchased those Knight Limbs (+11 magic damage, from 36 to 47) and the Squire Chest (+9 armor, up from a starting value of zero!) Leftover unspent gold went into a point in Magic Damage / Intelligence. I finally felt like I was off and rolling now with this variant.
Unlock: Enchantress, Upgrade Mage, Magic Damage Up, Sprint Rune, Vault Rune, Vault Rune, Knight Limbs, Squire Chest, Squire Sword
4) Level 7 (Health 1, Magic Damage 1, Equip 1, Miscellaneous 4): 140g
ADHD (move faster) and Coprolalia (your character swears a lot). Those were good traits. The spell cycle gave me the choice of axe, flame circle, or the bouncing spikes ball orbs (conflux), although the last one was pricey at 30 MP. I planned to go for the MP cost reduction upgrades quickly to help with that. Found a Sky Rune early on in one of those "kill all the hard to reach enemies" rooms, very nice. Easy to get them with the axe or the flame ring. Then found the exact same setup three rooms later and grabbed a Sprint Rune. Died fighting against the Botis miniboss, since two hits killed me. Only had enough gold to get a Mana Up upgrade. This was a bad run.
Unlock: Mana Up
5) Level 8 (Health 1, Magic Damage 1, Mana 1, Equip 1, Miscellaneous 4): 4190g
OCD, Coprolalia. I had an unused rune on the Cape slot, but not enough gold to purchase it. Somehow there was a Gradiator (top upgraded knight monster) in the first room, which I did kill without taking any hits, but wow. Took some work. This run landed the rune that I most desired: a Vampire Rune for the Helmet slot. That's what I needed to get some sustain going and extend these runs. Blood Sword also turned up in the next room, guarded by some tough opponents. One hit from them dropped me from 53 health to 13 health, sheesh. I had a pretty nice run, getting through all of the castle and venturing into the forest, where I found the Silver Helm, Squire Cape, and Knight Cape for my troubles. I also found a Spell Change in there, and I grabbed the time stopper, thinking to add it to my arsenal of spells... only it replaced all three of them with a totall new set! Interesting, I was not expecting that mechanic at all. I went from relying heavily on the flame circle over to using the chakram and time stopper instead. I played extremely well in the forest, seeing as how taking two hits would kill me with my pathetic 68 max HP total, and made it all the way to the forest boss door. That was about a dozen rooms cleared out, all with barely any damage taken. I'm honestly shocked that it made it so far with no Vampirism at all, and each chicken restoring all of 6 health. The unlocks went into the right side of the "castle" tree, grabbing the first level of Gold Gain Up and Potion Up, the idea being to push towards the mana cost reduction on spells over there. I had to pick up a few useless miscellaneous things along the way, like other classes. Most importantly, 700 gold went towards putting that Vampirism rune to use. The remainder went into a pair of Equip Ups (to be able to use the Squire Sword), leaving me with exactly zero gold left over. I didn't really plan that, but it worked out perfectly.
Unlock: Architect, Unlock Miner, Gold Gain Up, Upgrade Knave, Potion Up, Equip Up x2, Vampire Rune
6) Level 15 (Health 1, Magic Damage 1, Mana 1, Equip 3, Gold Gain 1, Potion 1, Miscellaneous 7): 1419g
Endomorph, can't get knocked back. I know that I type this for each character, but getting that first Vampirism rune makes all the difference in the world in sustaining through the dungeon. I found myself using the dagger spell quite a bit, as it did the same amount of damage as all of the others but only cost 10 MP. This is the great advantage of the Archmage class, the ability to hit things at range in a way that the Paladin didn't really have. Treasures in the castle included the Blood Cape and a random Strength +1 increase, which sadly didn't even upgrade the sword damage from 16 to 17, since the number value apparently gets rounded down. This run was going great, full health and everything, only to run into a room in the castle with three of the NG++ ice mage enemies, who blanketed the room with ice shards everywhere. They did 59 damage with each hit, and well, I had 68 health. I needed the time stop spell to get through there, and this mage didn't have it. The run ended in a hurry. The minimal gold went into pushing closer to the mana cost reduction upgrades.
Unlock: Unlock Spell Thief, Health Up
7) Level 17 (Health 2, Magic Damage 1, Mana 1, Equip 3, Gold Gain 1, Potion 1, Miscellaneous 8): 1617g
Dwarfism, Gay. The tiny little man found the castle boss door quickly, which had the Blood Chestplate sitting outside. No thanks, I'll pass on working with even less health! It was bad enough here, as I took three hits in rapid succession in one room and died immediately. This class can be brutal sometimes. I poured my money into Health upgrades, since there was little else to get, and that along with the Silver Helm took me all the way up to a MASSIVE 95 HP. Almost as much as the starting Level 0 Knight...
Unlock: Silver Helm, Health Up x3
8) Level 20 (Health 5, Magic Damage 1, Mana 1, Equip 3, Gold Gain 1, Potion 1, Miscellaneous 8): 3685g
No traits at all on this Archmage. A room full of enemies in the castle yielded a Balance Rune once they were all dead; I made extensive use of the flame ring here to take out the monsters. There was another room that had about eight of the star enemies in it, all shooting away; this was one of the few places where I was able to use the scythe to clear them out a bit. I had another great duel with a skeleton bone thrower in a different part of the castle, one of the tier three enemies that normally only appears in NG++ mode; we went back and forth for some time before I managed to close to melee range and blast him down with repeated hits from the flame ring. Great stuff. Got a full clear of the castle, albeit very close to death several times, and made it well into the forest. This was a pretty nice run. I put nearly all of the bonus into a second Gold Gain Up, since those do the most to improve future runs over the long haul.
Unlock: Gold Gain Up, Mana Up
9) Level 22 (Health 5, Magic Damage 1, Mana 2, Equip 3, Gold Gain 2, Potion 1, Miscellaneous 8): 6384g
Hypergonadism. That causes your sword to knock the enemies back enormously, which is usually good but can sometimes make things more difficult as well. This was an Archmage who had the chakram, scythe, and sword wall spells, which meant that I relied on casting the chakram very heavily. I went through and full cleared the castle with almost no difficulty at all, which led me to try the first boss battle against Khidr. This went quite well, as I dodged his red goo and tossed out a ton of chakram. In the end, I took one hit (which did 37 damage, three of them would have killed me!) and emptied out the entire MP gauge, but got the kill. Rewards were two Armor boosts (yay!) and a Mana bonus. I'll take them. Went into the forest and found the Knight Chestplate almost immediately, more Armor again, thankfully. I had been doing extremely well, but then I took three hits in one room full of mage enemies, and that was it. These Archmage runs can end very abruptly. I put nearly all of the money from this venture into unlocking the third Gold Gain upgrade, and the rest went into buying the Knight Chestplate. Unfortunately I couldn't put it on yet, needing another Equip Up for that. That left me with 330 gold, and the Squire Cape cost 300 gold to obtain, so I grabbed that for lack of other options. I couldn't put the cape on either, needed more equipment weight!
Unlock: Gold Gain Up, Knight Chestplate, Squire Cape
10) Level 23 (Health 5, Magic Damage 1, Mana 2, Equip 3, Gold Gain 3, Potion 1, Miscellaneous 8): 3783g
Alzheimer's, Stereo Blind. I had to kill off four heirs before rolling another Archmage, after a recent lucky streak of getting a lot of them; need to get Randomize Children soon just to make my life easier. This run was pretty irritating since I had no minimap to look at, although you can see it whenever you step on any of the teleporters. Anyway, I found the Knight Sword in the northwest corner of the castle, which was a definite upgrade over the current Squire Sword. There was a very intense battle for a fairy chest, in a room full of enemies with two Glaciens (top tier ice mage opponents). I did this room by using the time freeze spell, killing the first one and then returning after getting more MP to down the second. There were also a bunch of other eyeballs and such providing even more projectiles, it was quite a room. Would have died for sure without being able to stop time. You can see a picture of the time stopper at work above; this spell is not as useful for a pure Archmage as it would be for other classes, since you can only use physical attacks while time is frozen, and I didn't have much Strength or melee damage on these Archmages. Elsewhere in the dungon, the Knight equipment continued to drop, as the Knight Helm appeared later in the forest. Too bad it was inferior to the Silver Helm that I was already wearing. The run ended when I jumped into a spiked ceiling while dodging a spiked floor, argh. The money went into a second Potion Up increase and using the Knight Sword.
Unlock: Potion Up, Knight Sword, Equip Up
11) Level 25 (Health 5, Magic Damage 1, Mana 2, Equip 4, Gold Gain 3, Potion 2, Miscellaneous 8): 8671g
CIP, no visible health bar, another really irritating trait. I actually tracked health in my head while playing this one, mentally remembering what the health bar would be. This Archmage had some really nice spell selection: dagger, axe, and time stopper. I used the latter one to freeze enemies in really packed rooms several times, starting to get the hang of swapping these spells a bit better. This turned into a long and successful run, albeit one that was constantly full of tension because I never knew exactly how much health I really had. It ended when one of the top tier wolf enemies suddenly appeared out of nowhere and hit me twice, each hit doing 50+ damage, and killed me instantly. Frustrating, I didn't even have room to get off the time freeze spell. The good news was the fact that I had still cleared 8k gold, which was a new high for an Archmage. 7700 of that cash went into a fourth Gold Gain Up, then an Equip Up to put on the Knight Chestplate, and then just enough to get a point in extra magic damage.
Unlock: Gold Gain Up, Equip Up, Magic Damage Up
12) Level 28 (Health 5, Magic Damage 2, Mana 2, Equip 5, Gold Gain 4, Potion 2, Miscellaneous 8): 7112g
Dyslexia, Gay. The garbled text from the Dyslexia trait is pretty funny to read in this game. This Archmage was heavily reliant on the chakram spell, although I did have the time stop as well for emergencies. I had a really clean run through the castle, with about five different chickens randomly dropping that went completely to waste, as I picked up three or four runes along the way. Most interesting battle was probably with the third tier spinning chain ball guy, fought in the forest; he took three straight double hit chakram to down. Took quite a lot of punishment. I died at the end of a good run in one of those extremely annoying rooms where you have to fight monsters while also down-hitting platforms over a floor of spikes. Screw those rooms! The gold allowed me to take the third Potion Up improvement, knock out the Upgrade Spell Thief prerequisite (clearing the way to Mana Cost Down), and finally take a Health Up gain. My Archmages had finally reached 100 health, same as a Level 0 Knight!
Unlock: Potion Up, Upgrade Spell Thief, Health Up
13) Level 31 (Health 6, Magic Damage 2, Mana 2, Equip 5, Gold Gain 4, Potion 3, Miscellaneous 9): 11,770g
Nostalgic, sepia tones everywhere. This Archmage was heavily reliant on the flame ring, since the other two spells were not very useful (conflux and sword wall). I fought a nice battle in the castle, in a room with a whole bunch of monsters guarding a fairy chest, where the flame spell did some heavy lifting. There was a Vampire rune in the chest, a huge bonus for this character. Then a bombshell: for the first time ever, I actually won the dagger throwing minigame with this character!!!
The prize: the Blood Helm. Bah! Piece of garbage for all that fancy work. There was another battle in the forest for a fairy rune, where I used the flame ring to take out about a dozen enemies without getting hit. Some nice fighting there, if I do say so. Later in the forest, I came across a secret shrine, which gave me the Nerdy Glasses, fixing the Nostalgia vision problem! It also added a little glasses graphical effect to my Archmage, which was pretty funny. This run made it through all of the forest, and found the Silver Bracers outside the forest boss door, another upgrade granting extra magic damage. First Archmage to reach the tower, and I even cleared a fair amount of it; not bad for someone who died in three hits. I used nearly all of the money from this run to take the fifth and final Gold Gain Up skill, then grabbed the initial Mana Cost Down point. There was just enough left over to purchase the Silver Limbs, albeit not to equip them since I would need a further Equip Up for that.
Unlock: Gold Gain Up, Mana Cost Down, Silver Limbs
14) Level 33 (Health 6, Magic Damage 2, Mana 2, Equip 5, Gold Gain 5, Potion 3, Mana Cost Down 1, Miscellaneous 9): 4425g
Gay, Colorblind. This Archmage had a sweet set of spells: dagger, axe, and time stopper, all of which saw use. The black and white coloring was pretty irritating though, making it impossible to tell the fire and ice mages apart. This run ventured into the tower early and picked up the Silver Cape there, which may or may not prove useful. Perhaps more importantly, this run found another Vampire run for the Bracers slot, only I couldn't really use this one either, since it would force me to give up the dash or double jump. The Chestplate and Cape rune slots had nothing useful, and I had a ton of the other three slots, sigh. I had an awesome run going in the tower, only to die while making a discovery: you are not invincible when using the time stopper. I thought that you were, and could run through monsters. Uh, no - no you are not invincible when time is frozen. Whoops! The lesson has been learned. I put the bulk of the gold earned into a second Mana Cost reduction, then used the rest for an Equip Up (to put on the Silver Limbs) and to purchase the Silver Cape. I was still wearing no cape at all, and needed another four Equip Up points to use the Silver Cape, but it grants +1 Siphon, and that would be a real benefit indeed. Hopefully after the next run.
Unlock: Mana Cost Down, Equip Up, Silver Cape
15) Level 35 (Health 6, Magic Damage 2, Mana 2, Equip 6, Gold Gain 5, Potion 3, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 9): 10,230g
Dementia, Eid. Memory. There were two chickens in the entry room with the teleporter and the final boss door, what a terrible waste. I found a crazy amount of chicken and magic flasks in random drops all through the castle, and then when I didn't need them, the supply vanished completely. Heh. Anyway, this Archmage was heavily reliant on the flame ring again, and I had to use that to do just about everything. Made it through the castle and all of the forest, finding the Silver Chestplate along the way. Lots of Silver gear dropping recently. This run ended in the tower when I was swarmed by enemies with no possible way to escape; needed the time freeze spell, which this Archmage did not possess. I put the gold into a fourth Potion Up upgrade and the four Equip Up points needed to put on the Silver Cape. There was just enough to unlock the Silver Chestplate, although not enough to equip it yet. Needed one more Equip Up for that. Right now, my Archmage was decked out in nearly all Silver gear.
Unlock: Potion Up, Silver Chest, Equip Up x4
16) Level 40 (Health 6, Magic Damage 2, Mana 2, Equip 10, Gold Gain 5, Potion 4, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 9): 11,115g
Color Blind, Baldness: even more vision impairment abilities. That black and white screen got old real fast. This was a fairly uninteresting playthrough, with the only change being the extra Siphon for +8 MP after each kill instead of +6 MP. Eventually, the Ranger Chestplate dropped in the forest, which made this run worthwhile. Then later I found the Ranger Helm in the tower; looks like it's time to upgrade from the Silver gear to the Ranger stuff. (A Ranger Archmage? Heh.) I was happy to clear out the castle and forest with this character, and make it into the tower. The black and white screen genuinely makes it tough to see projectiles. Nearly all of the gold went into finishing off Potion Up with the final skill point, then I unlocked the Ranger Helm and Chestplate (only having enough equipment points to put on the helm), and had exactly enough gold left over to take a point in Attack Up. This was my first Attack point of the whole game thus far.
Unlock: Potion Up, Ranger Helm, Ranger Chest, Attack Up
17) Level 42 (Health 6, Attack 1, Magic Damage 2, Mana 2, Equip 10, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 9): 2250g
Gigantism, EDS. With the shiny new Ranger Helm, my Archmage was now all the way up to a massive 110 health, woohoo! This turned into a wasted run when I was killed in two hits in the tower; the top tier chain ball guys packed a real punch. Bought two Equip Ups and still needed one more for the Ranger Chestplate.
Unlock: Equip Up x2
18) Level 44 (Health 6, Attack 1, Magic Damage 2, Mana 2, Equip 12, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 9): 3735g
Ectomorph. This trait is not so good because you get knocked back a long way any time that you take a hit. The run itself got off to a good start, venturing into the tower and finding the Ranger Bracers inside, more magic damage for future Archmages. Then it all ended abruptly with one of the most BS deaths I've ever had, as I dropped into a room and was hit INSTANTLY by a bouncing spiked ball with no chance to dodge out of the way. Seriously, that was tremendously unfair. What a waste. Anyway, I had enough gold for another Equip Up, which let me put on the Ranger Chestplate. This more than the doubled Armor value, from 20 up to 42, and noticeably reduced damage taken (from 9% damage reduction up to 17% damage reduction). There was enough gold left over to purchase the Ranger Limbs, and enough equipment space that I didn't need to buy more. My Archmages were now wearing the Ranger Helm, Chestplate, and Limbs, along with the Silver Cape (for the Siphon) and the outdated Knight Sword for lack of other choices. The remaining money went into health and magic damage upgrades.
Unlock: Ranger Limbs, Equip Up, Health Up, Magic Damage Up
19) Level 47 (Health 7, Attack 1, Magic Damage 3, Mana 2, Equip 13, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 2, Miscellaneous 9): 9825g
IBS, your character farts a lot. This Archmage had the dagger and axe spells, and together with the mana cost reductions and extra Siphon that I had picked up, I was able to use the dagger for "one shot, one kill" purposes. The dagger cost 8 MP to use, and each monster kill restored 8 MP exactly. This made things a lot easier than slowly beating away at targets with the sword, and a lot safer too. My spells were doing 66 damage at this point versus 19 damage for the sword, more than triple the force. I reached the tower boss door early on without too much trouble, and even picked up Hyperion's Ring along the way (monsters drop more gold). I actually won the dagger tossing game again on this run (must be getting better at it!) only to land the Blood Bracers as a reward. Yuck, how about something worthwhile? A sweet run with the entire forest still to clear came to a premature end in the tower, when a pair of top tier shield monsters (tower guard) cornered me, and dealt over 100 damage in a single hit. I was not full health at the time. Instant death. The unlocks went into a third mana cost reduction, and then since I was just short of getting a fourth point in that skill or the Randomize Children ability, I purchased a bunch of "real" stat upgrades for the first time in ages.
Unlock: Mana Cost Down, Health Up x3, Magic Damage Up x2, Attack Up
20) Level 54 (Health 10, Attack 2, Magic Damage 5, Mana 2, Equip 13, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 3, Miscellaneous 9): 11,485g
Stereo Blindness. I fought the Botis miniboss in the castle for the first time with this character, and just barely won with 4 health remaining. The treasure chest dropped... gold as a reward, bah. What a waste of time. Then shortly thereafter, I fought the dual skeleton miniboss pair, and won in a much more satisfying fashion, taking just a single hit by tossing out a ton of chakram spells. This yielded a much-welcomed +2 Armor bonus, which I liked to imagine was a reward for fighting a much better encounter. As I often do with my characters once they start to hit this point in the game, I cleared as much of the tower as I could first, then restored health in the low-threat castle portion of the dungeon. From there it was on into the forest, where a chest next to the boss door dropped the Sage Sword. Then the Sage Bracers appeared in literally the very next room. Those sound really good for an Archmage, but I think they lower stats and provide a 10% gold bonus, which makes them not very useful. I didn't need any more penalties with these characters in the form of equipment. Pretty good run overall, I died to a room full of flame mages (about 10 of them) which I probably shouldn't have tried to fight but couldn't resist the challenge. Most of the resulting gold went into the fourth Mana Cost reduction, and the rest pumped a couple of random stats.
Unlock: Mana Cost Down, Health Up x2, Magic Damage Up x2, Mana Up
21) Level 60 (Health 12, Attack 2, Magic Damage 7, Mana 3, Equip 13, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 4, Miscellaneous 9): 21,915g
Baldness, Coprolalia. This Archmage had both the axe and flame ring spells, and I was hoping for some good results from him. I found a completely random Magic Damage +1 bonus in a normal chest in the castle - perhaps this was indeed a lucky run. I was intending to fight Alexander with this character due to the strong spell selection, and since the run was going well, I went ahead and did so. This first part of the battle went great: I dropped Alexander down to 1/3 health with the flame ring without taking any damage. Awesome! But then I ran out of magic points, and had to start whacking away with my sword, which wasn't so awesome. Eventually, I picked up a few kills on the little flying enemies for some MP Siphon, and then could toss axes at the boss to finish him off. Victory was achieved in a fairly close battle, exciting stuff. Rewards were two magic damage increases and a health increase. After full clearing the forest, I ventured into the tower and found the Guardian Bracers there, a very nice equipment upgrade. I love the Guardian stuff because of the bonus Armor it all grants, always useful to have. I also fought the dual skeleton miniboss again in the castle, winning and taking a health bonus in the process, but it was not nearly as clean as the previous Archmage run. The flame ring is inferior to the chakram for this fight, it seems. Later on in the tower, I picked up the Silver Sword as well, finally an upgrade over the Knight Sword that I had been using forever. The Guardian Helm and then the Ranger Cape appeared outside the tower boss door; I honestly do not remember the special property of that second one, will have to check. I nearly full cleared the tower before falling, amassing just shy of 22k with this Archmage. My best character yet by far.
Roughly 2/3 of the acquired gold went into finishing off the Mana Cost Down upgrade and then taking Randomize Children. As it turned out, I did not want the Guardian Limbs because they reduced magic damage in exchange for armor, and that wasn't a great trade for this character. I did decide to get the Guardian Helmet, which traded 17 health for +18 armor, which was about a 50% increase in armor value (44 to 62). The Silver Sword was a straight upgrade, I purchased that and then three equipment weights to use all the new gear. The Ranger Cape (crit chance and crit damage) was not worth giving up the Silver Cape's Siphon for these Archmages. Finally, the last remaining gold was just enough for two Health Up purchases, to offset the health lost from putting on the Guardian Helm. I was now sitting at the odd value of 138 max HP (due to rounding).
Unlock: Mana Cost Down, Randomize Children, Silver Sword, Guardian Helmet, Health Up x2, Equip Up x3
22) Level 67 (Health 14, Attack 2, Magic Damage 7, Mana 3, Equip 16, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 10): 23,915g
Endomorph, no knock back. I didn't really notice this causing as many problems as in the past, probably because I was using spells so heavily. This Archmage had an excellent group of spells: dagger, chakram, and time stopper, all of which were used at times. The dagger only cost 7 MP and I got 8 MP back per kill, so it really was a fire and forget spell. Keep in mind too that my spells did 80 damage versus 23 damage for normal attack. I tossed out a lot of daggers and chakram. Anyway, I ran into the double skeleton miniboss in the tower again, and defeated them while taking only a single hit in the process. That won me the Guardian Chestplate, which was probably an upgrade over the current Ranger one. I had a prolonged battle in a room full of monsters guarding a fairy chest, where I used the time stopper first to run in and kill the eyeball shooting guys, then went and did other parts of the dungeon to refill magic points, and returned to clear out the rest of the opponents. The rune that dropped was a useless Curse one, but further up in the tower past that room was a chest with the Ranger Sword inside. That's a definite gear upgrade, no question about it. Nice. I full cleared the castle, the forest, and the tower, so I decided to take on Ponce de Leon and see how things went. Right at the start of the battle, I took a hit from the boss and found that that did 55 damage. Well, I had 138 health, so that meant I could get hit exactly one more time, two hits meaning death. I dodged all over the boss room tossing chakram repeatedly, and managed to take... one more hit, leaving me with just enough health to win out successfully. Pretty sweet execution if I do say so myself, there was not much room for error at all. Victory with 40 health and 71 magic points left. Rewards were two health bonuses and a mana bonus. I'll take them. From there, I ventured into the basement for the first time, and managed to die in the second room, albeit due to the fact that I didn't have anywhere near full health or mana. Still a great run.
With the resulting money, I finally went ahead and purchased two Haste Runes, one of them picked up on the previous run. I had the worst luck with runes when it came to these Archmages; I had 9/11 runes unlocked in the helm slot, and 1/11 runes unlocked in the chestplate slot, a useless Curse rune. The cape slot was no better for the longest time, just a flight rune and a haste rune. I probably should have bought the haste rune ages ago, but kept expecting a vampirism rune or something to drop instead. Now that all of the utility unlocks in things like Gold Gain and Mana Cost Down had been purchased, I bit the bullet and bought the two Haste Runes, since they would be noticeably better than nothing. Movement speed is very useful. Still working on +1 Vampirism this whole game, two health back per monster kill. Other purchases included the Ranger Sword and Guardian Chestplate, which were both major upgrades (especially the chestplate, +32 armor, from 62 to 94) and the equipment weight needed to put them on. Then I used the remaining 12k gold to purchase some health, magic damage, and a lot of mana upgrades. I was starting to run out of mana too easily, and my Archmages were almost useless when they were out of juice. Needed to be able to cast more spells.
Unlock: Haste Rune, Haste Rune, Ranger Sword, Guardian Chestplate, Health Up x2, Equip Up x3, Magic Damage Up x3, Mana Up x7
23) Level 82 (Health 16, Attack 2, Magic Damage 10, Mana 10, Equip 19, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 10): 20,610g
P.A.D. the anti-floor spike trait. I think that this is my favorite trait in the game, it's just so useful in many of the dungeon rooms. With the addition of those two Haste runes, my Archmage was really FAST! Almost too fast actually. Anyway, I had both the dagger and the axe for this particular Archmage, and I used them both to clear out the tower early on. I had enough magic damage at this point to get one-hit kills on almost everything, and it was almost like playing a shooting game as I mowed everything down with daggers. The Archmage is actually pretty powerful in this respect. The one glaring weakness remained the extreme frailty of this character: three hits would still kill me in many places. I found the Botis miniboss in the tower and pincushioned him with daggers, standing on the opposite side of the room and winning without taking a hit. Ha! The reward was the Sage Cape, probably not useful. Then I faced the dual skeleton minibosses in the castle again; the dagger is not a great weapon versus them, not as good as the chakram, but once you kill one of the two skeleton bone throwers, the second becomes a cinch because he can't hit you from across the room. This reward was only gold, blah. I cleared the castle, forest, tower, and about half of the basement. Because I had PAD trait, I went after the Herodotus boss, but ultimately failed to win. I played it pretty decently, got about halfway done, however I just didn't have enough health. I wish I had had the chakram instead of the dagger; the smallest blobs actually were too short to get hit by my knives. There were no pieces of equipment or runes to grab here, so all the money went into stat gains.
Unlock: Magic Damage Up x6, Health Up x5
24) Level 93 (Health 21, Attack 2, Magic Damage 16, Mana 10, Equip 19, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 10): 42,260g
Farsighted, Hypergonadism. The vision blurriness was a real issue, but I dealt with it as best I could. This Archmage had two good spells, the chakram and the time stopper (along with the scythe). There are some tricks to using these weapons that you pick up with practice; for example, the chakram will only travel a short distance in the direction it's thrown, but it will travel endlessly in the opposite direction after coming back. You can use it to hit targets in the far distance by throwing it in the "wrong" direction and get kills on the rebound. The chakram will go the full length of whatever room you're in, way beyond vision range; I've woken up monsters three full screen lengths away at times. I used this trick to defeat the dual skeleton minibosses again in the tower without taking any damage. Pound the first skeleton with chakram, then stay far away from the other one and throw the weapon in the opposite direction. Easy win! I even managed to use the scythe to grab a fairy chest, in one of those "kill all the enemies placed behind walls" challenges. Cleared out the whole tower, and picked up a final piece of new equipment in the form of the Sky Chestplate in the back corner. I did a lot of fighting from there, and this turned into my first Archmage to get a full dungeon clear, accumulating 32k gold in the process. There's a picture of the full dungeon map above, I had to turn up the contrast to make the basement show up better.
The Herodotus fight was unique for this character, in that I couldn't really take out only the smallest blobs one at a time. Rather, I found myself faring better by using the chakram to sweep out whatever blobs happened to be on the ground floor over and over again, cutting them down in swaths at a time, and alternating between doing that and killing the flying mage enemies that popped out. This was a bit weird, but it did work, and I won a close battle. PAD would have made this really easy. The victory bonus was two armor upgrades and one health upgrade, just about the best possible for this character. That left me with nothing to do but challenge the final bosses. I did well enough against Johannes, but unfortunately the Fountain hit me twice at close range with his sword, and that was an instant kill. Hmmm. The good news was the fact that I now had 42k gold to sink into upgrades. With that money, I was finally able to shift my runes around a bit, giving up a Haste rune in exchange for a Vampire rune for some better sustain. This had not been possible before due to my terrible rune drop luck, not without losing the double jump or the dash mechanics. None of the new equipment was better than what I already had, so I poured a ton of cash into major stat upgrades. I did this almost perfectly, ending up with a mere 10 gold remaining. Nice!
Unlock: Vault Rune, Vampire Rune, Magic Damage Up x6, Mana Up x5, Health Up x5, Attack Up x4
25) Level 113 (Health 26, Attack 6, Magic Damage 22, Mana 15, Equip 19, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 10): 35,865g
Eid. Memory and PAD. These would have been great traits for the previous Archmage. Spells included the axe and the flame ring, which were decent enough but not ideal for fighting the final two bosses. I hoped to find a different set somewhere inside the dungeon. Fought the dual floating mage minibosses in the tower (many axes were used), resulting in a drop of the Sky Helm, which I believe will be an upgrade. I later found the Sky Bracers, the Guardian Cape, and the Retribution Cape down in the basement, the latter two of which will force a tough decision on what bonuses I want in that equipment slot. Cleared out the entire dungeon on a 35k gold run, but the axe just wasn't a very good weapon against Johannes, and he managed to kill me before I even reached the Fountain. Blargh. Afterwards, I decided that the +27 armor from the Guardian Cape was more useful than the +1 Siphon from the Silver Cape, and made that switch, going from 80 to 107 armor in the process. The Sky Helm and Sky Limbs were essentially pure upgrades, more health and mana and magic damage. With that new equipment in hand, I still had 29k gold left over for upgrades, which went into the usual stats.
Unlock: Sky Helm, Sky Limbs, Guardian Cape, Attack Up x5, Health Up x4, Magic Damage Up x3, Equip Up
26) Level 126 (Health 30, Attack 11, Magic Damage 25, Mana 15, Equip 20, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 10): 31,680g
This Archmage had no traits at all, and only the flame ring as a useful spell (the others were blade wall and conflux, neither one too good against the final bosses). The crippling problem of the flame barrier is that you have to be very close to the target for it to deal damage, and that's not a bright idea against major bosses. I decided to try another full clear of the dungeon in the hopes of finding an alternate spell set. The run turned up the Guardian Sword, Sage Chestplate, and Retribution Chestplate, along with four or five runes. I again full cleared the entire dungeon, hoping for an alternate spell set to appear on an altar somewhere, but didn't find anything. That meant I had to fight Johannes with the flame circle, which fared poorly. Look at that screenshot above; you have to get extremely close to deal damage, and Johannes could even jump INSIDE the ring of flames, where he could wail away on me without taking damage. It's just not a good weapon against him, and I died once again in failure. Despite all this new gear, none of it was actually better than what I had. Upgrades went into more basic stats.
Unlock: Health Up x5, Magic Damage Up x5
27) Level 136 (Health 35, Attack 11, Magic Damage 30, Mana 15, Equip 20, Gold Gain 5, Potion 5, Mana Cost Down 5, Miscellaneous 10): 44,065g
Coprolalia, Tunnel Vision. These traits were fairly neutral, and this Archmage was fortunate enough to have three strong spells: dagger, chakram, and time stopper. I went through and full cleared the entire dungeon another time, although this run still had its interesting points. I dropped as low as 27 health at one point in the basement, having to retreat out of there and come back with more life later. I also fought Botis twice in the castle and forest, the second time producing a +5 mana bonus for my troubles. I ended this run through the dungeon by killing the Salos miniboss, the giant painting that sometimes comes to life, which dropped the Retribution Bracers as a prize. This was the Archmage that I wanted to use to take out the final two bosses, largely due to spell selection, and everything worked out pretty much as I had hoped. I was hit twice by Johannes, but a dagger flurry was enough to down him in short order. Honestly would have taken no damage if he hadn't cornered me against the wall, he got stuck in a loop pattern for a while and lost half his health without doing anything. Then versus the Fountain, I grabbed two chickens and essentially kept throwing more daggers. He hit me twice as well, but I grabbed the remaining two chickens and that put my Archmage up close to full health again. With each dagger doing 150 damage, it didn't take that long to win. Victory on the 27th Archmage, with 44k gold left over to spend in NG+ mode.
I probably should have been able to defeat the game a bit faster than I actually did here; I needed more Archmage lives and more levels than my previous Paladin Legacy (which only took 21 heirs) before finally clearing things out. That was due at least partly to spell selection, however, something that you can't control when rolling those random heirs. The flame barrier simply wasn't too useful against Johannes and The Fountain, and I had to wait until I had the dagger or the chakram to eliminate them. It wasn't the worst thing in the world either, getting a few more 30k gold runs to sink into more stat upgrades. And the Archmage is almost certainly a weaker class overall than the Paladin too. I knew that I had plenty of challenges still ahead in the upcoming New Game Plus (NG+) difficulty yet to come. How was I going to get through the dungeon when my spell damage stopped increasing but monster health and damage kept ramping up? Was this thing going to be possible at all? I was about to find out.