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Scorp40left.png Character Development Guide Scorp40right.png

Note: You can download a printable version of this document in the Shadowbane: Getting Started portable document (PDF) that requires Adobe Reader.

Before you begin on your journey of becoming a legend, there are two pieces of advice that are more vital than anything you will read in this.

First, learn not only from the success of others, but from their mistakes, too.  There is a wealth of knowledge to be found from people who have been playing Shadowbane for years.  While you may not want to make a character just like someone else's (and when you have this much depth to character development, why would you?), you can learn a lot from studying other players.  The greatest source of this information can be found on the official Shadowbane Forums under the Shadowbane Player-Created Guides and The Shadowbane Workshop which contains individual discussion boards for each Profession.

Second, and probably even more important, find a Player Guild to join.  While adventuring in Shadowbane as a solo player can be fun and adventurous, playing with a group of players will only increase the enjoyment.  There is a reason we have chosen to play a massively multiplayer online game... to game with others.  If we wanted to play alone, there are plenty of single-player games out there with multiplayer aspects for a quick fix.  Being a part of a guild will bring a new dimension to gameplay and will give you a sturdy foundation of knowledge to lean against.  The adage holds true; The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

You can find a guild using a variety of methods.  You can peruse the various enlistment boards on the official Shadowbane Forums .  You can use the Looking for Guild (/lfgu) toggle in-game.  Or you can use the Shadowbania Guild Database (coming soon!).

Starting Out

When your character first steps into the world, they will appear inside of aSafehold .  A Safehold is a protected town fashioned by the Shadowbane Developers. Players cannot engage in combat of any kind while in the Safehold and surrounding areas, and these towns cannot participate in territorial conquest. Conveniently for starting characters, Safeholds tend to be located near low level adventuring areas.

The initial possessions your character has will be dependent upon the Race and Base Class you chose during Character Creation; thus providing your character with a "starting kit" consisting of clothing and a weapon.  Initial items have no monetary value to any of the merchants in the game, and cannot be sold for profit.

While Shadowbane is a Player-versus-Player (PvP) game, you will be safe from such conflict until you leave the lands where all players begin.Once you reach Level 10, you'll have the option to venture to the mainland but will not be forced to until you hit Level 21.Furthermore, while you are on the starting adventuring zones, whenever you die, you will respawn with all equipment you have and are carrying.This will not be the case when you venture forth into the battlegrounds on the mainland.

Once you are in the game world, adjust your interface so it works for you. All windows can be moved around by moving the top of your cursor to the top of the window simply holding down both the Shift Key and the left Mouse Button at the same time. Then simply "drag" the window to anywhere you want.There are also additional windows you may wish to have onscreen that can be found under the Character Info and Windows menus on the Main Menu. The one window you will want up at all times is your Local Map.

Look around and you should find some creatures nearby where you enter the game.You will be able to distinguish them by the red plus sign (+) in the Local Map.Green plus signs are other players who belong to the same guild and/or city as you, blue ones are other players who belong to other guilds, and yellow ones are non-hostile Non-Player Characters (NPCs). Once you find these creatures, attack them.Do not worry, these monsters will not attack you until you attack them, they are merely target practice. Others will not be so gentle.

Gaining Levels and Experience Points

Every time a character defeats an opponent, he or she will gain Experience Points (XP).  Experience Points are an abstract measure of a character's improvement;  the amount of experience gained for killing a foe is determined by comparing the Level of your character and the Level of your opponent.  The higher level your opponent is compared to you, the more experience you will gain.  The reverse is also true; lower level opponents yield less.

Continue slaying creatures the best way you see fit, be it with spells or your weapon, until you level up to level 2.  Whenever a character reaches a set amount of Experience Points, he or she will advance to the next Level.  Each time a new level is reached, your character receives a number of benefits, including an increase to their maximum hit points, stamina and mana.  Additionally they are granted a number of Practice Points and Character Points which can be used to increase Skills and Attributes respectively. In accordance with the diminishing returns system, fewer bonuses are granted as a character increases higher and higher in level.

At Level 2, you will have 5 stat points now, and some training points, so you may run back to town and train up your spell or weapon skill. Skills and Powers are special abilities that shape the individual nature of a character.  Only a few Skills and Powers are available to a beginning character, but more will open up as you advance in Level.  To advance in a Power or Skill (including those obtained from Disciplines), you must visit a Trainer suitable for your Class.  Training Halls are located in towns and cities throughout the world.  Most trainers will charge a fee for their services and are limited in how far they can train a character in any particular skill or power.

You may also increase a character's various Attributes by spending Character Points gained through leveling.  These points may be used at any time after they are awarded, and do not have a monetary cost attached to them.  You need only to open your Character Window to allocate these.

Once you're satisfied, adventure a little further out until you come across stronger creatures. These will yield not only better loot but also better experience.Rest as you need to. Continue to ask for groups every so often, and try to find people to level with. Do note, grouping in Shadowbane will help you level faster since there are experience bonuses associated with the system. 

Once you have hit level 5, run back to the hamlet and train up some more then head back out.If you adventure even further out, you will find even better creatures to slay.Beware, though, no longer will these creatures sit idly by until you attack.These creatures will attack you if you stand too close, so be very careful that you do not pull more monsters than you can handle. This process, if you are on your own may take a while, but if you find a good group, you can move to the mainland quickly. Many players will leave the island once they get to level 10, and never come back, but I would recommend trying to stay a bit longer, exploring the higher level zone, and getting to know your character.

Taking on a Profession

You can get to level 10 at many of the camps located near the hamlets, also known as Rank 1. Both characters and monsters in the world of Shadowbane are referenced (in terms of power) by their Level. Level is always expressed as a number, running from one and going up.  Level defines how seasoned and experienced a given character is and how effective they are as members of their Class or Profession.

Rank, a by-product of Level, is a measure of the status that comes along with reaching higher levels. I.e. a character or monster's rank is equal to their level divided by ten. Thus, characters spend Levels one to nine at Rank 0, and both a 39th level Wizard and a 33rd level Druid would be considered Rank 3. Rank provides a good (but not decisive) means of gauging a foe's power, but it can still be deceiving.A Level nine monster, for instance, is much deadlier than a Level one beast, and both would read as Rank 0.  Some items and powers in the world are also rumored to allow a character to disguise his or her Class and Rank.

As the measuring stick of a character's power, Rank has other important uses in Shadowbane. As the old saying goes, Rank has its privileges: an increase in Rank can sometimes give access to new Powers, Skills, Disciplines and equipment.  As each Class in the game is represented by a single icon, these icons are in turn used to display the Rank of the character or monster currently selected.

Once you have reached Level 10, go back to town. You must now promote into your Profession.  Professions are advanced, more specialized careers that characters can follow in the world of Shadowbane and can be chosen based on a character's apprenticeship, race and gender.  Do note that some Specialty Classes are available to more than one Base Class.  Choosing a Specialty Class will offer the character a host of new Skills, Powers, and other benefits (such as Class specific weapons and armor.)    Characters MUST choose their Specialty Class when they reach Rank 1 (10th level).  To learn more about specific Professions, click here.

The easiest way to reach a trainer is to go to the Runemaster in the hamlet, and cycle through the speech options until you get "How do I leave this village?". You can then pledge to other towns, including player owned towns, where you can buy items later on, and more importantly, train your character. Later on you will want to go to training towns with friends, to help guard each other from players wishing to kill you. For now, repledge to the city that shows on your world map near you. There you will be able to find the trainer you need to promote to your Profession.

Movingto the Mainland

While a character can move to the "mainland" as early as Level 10, they must leave the starting areas at Level 21. This is considered graduation day to many players because they have moved from the learning stage to the "real world".  While your character will function the same on the mainland, the rules have changed.  With the exception of Safeholds, players are free to engage in Player-versus-Player (PvP) combat now.  And when you die, your character will leave anything in their inventory behind on their corpse (but will keep hold of everything equipped).


Advancement works much the same way for the rest of your character's career with a few exceptions.  When a character reaches Level 20, he or she can take up to three (3) Disciplines and then an additional slot at Level 70 for a total of four (4) in all.  Disciplines are a form of multi-classing in Shadowbane, and represent a distinct area of expertise that a character can pursue. Some Disciplines focus on specific styles or types of combat, while others represent membership in specific groups, study in a particular school of magic, or even inborn supernatural abilities. While every character has only one Class, they may follow up to three Disciplines. As with their Specialty Class, a character joins a Discipline by attuning themselves to a Runestone for that Discipline. 

All Disciplines convey some sort of benefit to those who seek to study or practice them. Some provide skill rating and attribute bonuses, and many also grant access to new Powers and Skills that would otherwise be unavailable. Some disciplines are specific to certain races and classes, and still more are hidden within the game and can only be found through gameplay.

Note, however, that characters will always receive the same number of Practice Points to spend on Powers and Skills, including those obtained from Disciplines.  Thus disciplines provide more options to players, but not necessarily more power!

To learn more about specific Disciplines, click here.

The "Soft Cap"

Unlike many games which have a "maximum level" that characters can achieve through the course of gameplay (a "hard cap" on levels, if you will) Shadowbane's leveling system is designed around a "Soft Cap" approach.   The Soft Cap works as follows : 

The amount of experience a player earns from killing foes is dependent upon the character's Level when compared to the level of their opponent. Thus, as characters increase their level, they must seek out increasingly stronger foes to continue gaining the same amount of experience per kill.  Eventually even the strongest monsters in the game will begin to result in smaller and smaller yields.  Couple this with the fact that the benefits of gaining levels decline as a character rises in Rank (to the point where players are receiving nothing more than the bragging rights of the newly gained level.)

Practice Points decrease their benefit as Powers and Skills approach mastery, and a high Rank character receives far fewer new hit points, stamina points, and mana than a character that rises from first to second level. Furthermore, Attributes have maximum values (determined by character Race and modified by Traits, if any).  The implied plateau created by the diminishing returns is called the "Soft Cap," and it places an indirect limit on how powerful a character can become.