After a little thought, I decided to create one more character, a Ranger, and then take each out for a little test drive.

There’s a small cache of stuff near the start that holds an item specific to each class. Rogues get some lockpicks, mages and clerics get an attack spell, fighters find a short sword, and rangers get a bow and 40 arrows. And everyone starts off with the usual crummy dagger.

Naturally, I began with the fighter, and quickly ran into my first dislike: hitting doesn’t always do damage. Oof! It sure is annoying to smack something and not hurt it. Okay, it works in reverse, too: the critter can hit and not injure you.

Still, I’m not happy about that, especially as you can miss. And with the ranger, it’s worse, because his ammunition is limited. Between missing and needing several arrows per kill, those arrows won’t last long. Then you’re stuck using a melee weapon, just like the fighter.

So I ended up going with the mage. Big surprise, huh? Well, there’s one thing about that spell: it never misses. If you have a clear shot, you’re gonna hit. I like that a lot.

The first enemies around are “fanged salamanders”. It takes two hits with a second-level spell to put one down. Of course, spells use up mana, but that renegerates over time. So, for that matter, do hit points.

So with spellcasters, ammunition isn’t a problem, unless you get really low. Then it’s wise to find a safe spot and hang out for awhile by using the space bar to pass time. I do this at night instead of camping out, too.

Having settled on the mage (which, by the way, I went back and recreated to be a little better), I poked around the ruins where you start. There isn’t a lot to find, and as others have mentioned, containers hold randomly-generated treasure. So yes, I did spend a bit of time on the old look/restore routine.

Oh yeah, when you first “wake up” at the start, you find a note that tells you about the cache and directs you to someone in a small village nearby. Once the ruined town was cleaned up, I headed there.

The guy had some money for me, and another billet-doux. That explained why I had amnesia and few skills. Not that the explanation made a lot of sense to me. Maybe later things will become clearer.

I hope this isn’t a “notes from myself” thing. You know, something I set up before becoming blank-minded. Didn’t we have that in Planescape? I’d rather not run into that situation again.

Anyway, after picking up the stuff, I stopped in at Ye Olde Magick Shoppe. And almost fainted at the prices. It’s one thing for items to be expensive. It’s another when the merchant is asking for almost double the list price. Yeah, double.

THAT is going too far. You’d think a merchant would be grateful to have a customer. No one else is around to buy anything. But there you are. Just one spell would have taken most of my cash, so I didn’t make any purchases. It’s things like this that make me itch for my hex editor.

Then I bopped around the place looking for any odd jobs (jobs are always odd in these games ;). So the local priest wants me to deliver something, for no money. Sure I took it. Hey, an altruistic errand; you don’t get those every day.

Then she of the exorbitant Magick Shoppe wants a certain book, if I ever happen to come across it. And the overpriced blacksmith wants a mithril bar he left back in that ruined town.

Well, there’s no question that Eschalon is built around the “old school struggle” model. Money is scarce, items are costly, advancement is slow (my guy is only about half-way to level 2), and I learned from the boards last night you only get 3 skill points on level gain. Serious oversight in the “manual”, which doesn’t mention what you get on level gain.

Personally, I feel that skills related to your class should be a little cheaper to buy. Say, 2 points instead of 3. After all, that’s your specialty.

Shucks, my guy Zarkon doesn’t even have a weapon skill. And with those points, it’ll be awhile before he does have one. I’ve seriously considered doing him over, but will stick with him for now. More later as it happens.