While each Aisling seeks and follows his own Path, Aislings that follow the Monk's Path have an additional choice they must make, usually before they even reach their Second Circle: what Animal Stance works best for them? The skills and secrets inherent in each style are integral to a Monk's ability to function on the battlefield, but each style presents a variety of disadvantages, as well as benefits. With the Draco, Scorpion, and Kelberoth forms, the Monk gains a great deal of effectiveness in combat, especially when hunting with others. A White Bat Monk, though, while he has some abilities which can benefit other members of a hunting party, is not particularly suited for mixed-Path hunting parties; rarely does their primarly ability, that of invisibility, benefit a group with which they are hunting. The White Bat is a solitary hunter; they can often be seen taking on a creature single-handedly, often in very dangerous areas.
I have been a White Bat for several Deochs now, and have learned some lessons about hunting, both alone, and with others. This Guide is presented mostly for younger Monks that may be thinking of learning the White Bat Form, although I have met some White Bat Monks as high as their Third Circle that have seen some benefit in these lessons, as well. It is my sincere wish that all who read this find something useful.
Trystan Tymersen A humble monk of Cail
First, of course, a Monk should raise each of his attributes to a minimum of five, since this is the minimum necessary to learn the Stance. This is the minimum to learn any Stance, with a teacher; to learn a Form without a teacher, a monk must have each of his attributes at a minimum of ten. To find a teacher, check the legends of any monk that is of at least the eleventh insight: the Form they have learned is imprinted there, and they must have had at least eleven insights in order to teach their Form. Alternately, there is a list of monks willing to teach their Animal Form to others, which is updated and posted once per double-moon on the message board outside of the Temple of Cail in Undine.
The very act of studying and learning the Form will raise your Intelligence and Dexterity, but lower your Strength and Constitution. ((+3 to Intelligence, +1 to Dexterity, -2 each to Strength and Constitution.)) Because of this sudden change in your attributes, it is important to learn Kick before you learn the Form, since the minimum Constitution to learn this Skill is four, and learning the Form may lower your Constitution to the point where you must wait before you are able to learn it.
It is important to focus on raising your Strength and Constitution, not only to make up for the loss from learning the Form, but to be able to learn important combat Skills, such as High Kick, Double Punch, and Poison Punch. Strength is not as important to Monks as it is to Warriors, but we must maintain a relatively high Strength if we wish to function effectively on the battlefield. A good rule of thumb is this: At lower insights, figure out what Skill or Secret you want to learn next, and find out what attributes you need to learn it; before you raise any of your other attributes, first raise your Strength to the level of the highest required attribute. For instance, the minimum attributes to learn Poison Punch are as follows: a Strength of 6, an Intelligence of 8, a Wisdom of 5, a Constitution of 16, and a Dexterity of 10. Before raising any of your other attributes, make certain that your unaided Strength (i.e., your Strength while wearing no attribute-enhancing equipment, like Gold Earrings) is a minimum of 16. Once your Strength is at 16, begin raising your other attributes to their requisite levels.
While physical attributes are certainly important, Intelligence and Wisdom should not be overlooked. Both are requisites for important Skills and Secrets, and more importantly, they can have an effect on your mana as you gain insights. Mana is important for Monks in general, and for White Bat Monks in particular, since our lives can depend on whether or not we can cast our Stance and disappear before a foe can target us with an attack or a spell.
Generally speaking, try to keep your attributes relatively balanced. Unlike other Paths, where one attribute or another is of particular importance, Monks don't have any single attribute which is more important than any other.
White Bat Stance - This is the Secret you receive when you learn the Form. By casting it, you can render yourself invisible for a short period of time. At first, it is not all that reliable, but as you build your skill in it, it will become more reliable. Once you learn the Form, you should begin practicing the Stance as much as possible: it is quite possible to raise your skill relatively quickly through just casting it repeatedly. You might also take this opportunity to go exploring. One of the joys of being a White Bat Monk is that you can safely get into some places that others cannot. Keep in mind that at lower insights, you won't have much mana, and your Stance won't be all that reliable just yet, but as long as all you're doing is exploring, and you keep an eye on the amount of time you have remaining, you should be safe. Always make sure you have a scroll ready, though, just in case you can't seem to get the Stance cast, and you find yourself running out of mana. (See Equipment.) Also be aware that blinded creatures will attack any enemy that is directly next to them, using their other senses to compensate for their lack of sight; and since they are blind anyway, they can even target invisible Aislings.
Mist - This Secret, taught by the Fae Priestess in Mileth, increases you ability to dodge your enemies' blows. As with other Secrets, it becomes more reliable with practice, so do so when you can. It does take a good amount of mana, especially at lower insights, so make sure you cast it before you enter a dangerous area. The act of casting this, or any Secret, will break your Stance, rendering you visible, so make sure you cast it before you cast the Stance, as well. After you build your skill to five or so, you should pretty much use this Secret constanly; there's no reason not to be under its influence.
Ao puinsein and Ao dall - Both of these Secrets are less important at lower insights, but become increasingly important as you gain insights, and venture into more dangerous areas. At first, you will encounter few creatures that will be able to poison or blind you, but later on, you'll not only find creatures that can cast these conditions on you, but you'll find yourself blundering into traps with the same effects. Again, though, keep in mind that casting these Secrets will render you visible.
Puinneag beatha - This Secret is one that you will find a small degree of use for on the battlefield, but it can be extremely useful if used before you go hunting. With this Secret, you will be able to drain the life from creatures; more importantly, half of the amount you drain from the creature will be added to your own health. What's more, you can actually exceed your maximum amount of health, by a factor of two. If your maximum health is 2500, for instance, you can drain creatures of their health until your total health is 5000. (Actually, you can continue draining life from creatures even after you reach twice your normal maximum, but their health is no longer added to yours at that point.) When you first learn the Secret, you will be able to drain a maximum of about 500 health from any given creature. Keep in mind, also, that they must have fewer than 500 health, or the Secret won't work at all. To use it, just walk up to a creature that has fewer than 500 health left (determined by using Echo Sense and Martial Awareness), either naturally or through your efforts, and cast the Secret while standing directly next to it. If successful, you will observe the life flowing out of the creature, and into you. A good way to practice this Secret is to go to the first or second level of the Crypt and use it on Spiders or Centipedes; the Silk left by the Spiders and Glands left by the 'Pedes can be sold for a tidy profit, or saved for your students. Another good way to practice it is in the Garden, while brewing potions; just cast it on any Wasp or Mantis that happens past you. I recommend practicing like this before you plan to hunt: the extra health can serve you well. Beware though, that while you are "charged up" with this extra health, you may not notice when creatures hit you: you don't actually become aware of damage they inflict on you until your total drops below your normal maximum.
Assail and Double Punch - These Skills are your "Linked" attacks: when you use one ((by pressing the space bar)), you automatically use the other. Double Punch should be learned as quickly as possible, since it basically doubles the effectiveness of each of your attacks. Keep in mind, too, that there are some skills that require Assail to be of a certain level in order to learn them (Martial Awareness, for one).
Kick, High Kick and Poison Punch - These Skills are your "Special" attacks: each must be used separately ((by double-clicking, or using a hotkey; a hotkey is recommended)). As stated above, you should learn Kick before you even learn the Form. High Kick is a more powerful, but less reliable, version of Kick. Poison Punch, when successful, will briefly infect your target with a damaging venom. Each of these Skills will be used together, fired off in rapid succesion (see Tactics).
Ambush - This is a wonderful Skill which enables you to move around other creatures at blinding speeds, often putting you at a tactical advantage, behind or flanking them. I often use this Skill after I've fired off my Special attacks, immediately after the creature turns to face me; in this way, I can get a few more hits in before I cast my Stance (see Tactics). It can also be a lifesaver if you find yourself cornered by one or more creatures; using it can allow you to escape. I recommend practicing this Skill whenever you can, especially when exploring; using it does not break your Stance, nor alert the target creature in any way. This Skill can even be used on other Aislings, although you should be aware that some people find it extremely annoying to have someone hopping back and forth around them while they're trying to have a conversation.
Dark Spear - Also known as the Blinding Strike, this Skill can be used to temporarily blind your target. Blinded creatures will not move or target creatures with spells, although, as stated above, they will attack any adjacent enemies. This Skill does not, to the best of my knowledge, inflict any damage on your target, and while this can be used as another "Special" attack, it takes longer to recover from using it than any of your others. I will usually use it after a foe has turned to face me, and in that way, cover my retreat should I be unable to cast my Stance. It also comes in handy in group situations when, while battling one creature, other hostile monsters wander into the fray; by blinding them, you can concentrate on your original target.
Echo Sense and Martial Awareness - Echo Sense is perhaps the most overlooked Skill in all of Temuair, and one of the more useful ones to White Bat hunters. Both of these Skills accomplish similar tasks, although using different methods and to different degrees. Both will be extrememly important to your success or failure as a hunter; just because you have one doesn't mean you can do without the other. Each of these Skills will give you some information about your opponent, information which you can use to your advantage on the battlefield. With Echo Sense, you use sound waves to take a quick assessment of your opponent's abilities; with Martial Awareness, you study your opponent to learn his strengths and weaknesses. Both Skills improve with practice: both will give you more information about your opponent as you get better with them. You will find that Echo Sense will improve rather quickly, especially if you use it often, but it is limited in the amount of information it can give you. Still, at its best, you can use the Skill to learn your opponent's attack Element, and thus take precautions to guard against it. (See Equipment.) It will take you longer to learn Martial Awareness, if for no other reason than because you must first raise your Assail to 10 or greater. Even after you learn it, you will find that it takes much, much more practice to improve your ability with this Skill than with Echo Sense, so even after you have learned it, you will still keep your older ability. But at its best, Martial Awareness will tell you your opponent's attack Element and defense Element, allowing you to both guard and arm yourself against them.
Perish Lore - While this one is not important for combat, it is very important for those that hunt alone, for it gives you the ability to separate the trash from the treasure. You can only carry so much with you, both into and out of the various hunting grounds. With this ability you can identify any item to see if it's worth taking with you, or best left sitting on the ground for someone who could better use it. You can learn this Skill from the Rogue Trainer in Suomi beginning at your 19th insight, but you must have a minimum of 13 each in Intelligence and Wisdom, and you must have previously learned the Food Lore Skill.
Belts - Once you raise your ability in Echo Sense high enough, you will be able to determine your foes' attack Element, and with the propper belt, you can defend against it, greatly reducing the amount of damage they can inflict on you. Plain Elemental Belts are sold by the Rucesion Armorer, at a cost of 10,000 coins each. Leather Belts of various Elemental power can be found, among other places, in the Crypt; these have the further advantage of raising your Wisdom. Mythril Belts, on the other hand, will raise your Constitution; these are usually found in the Woodlands or in Mehadi Swamp, among other areas. Hybrasil Belts will raise both your Wisdom and Intelligence, but don't ask me where to find them: the only place I've seen them is around the waists of high-insight or rich Aislings. It is in your best interests to carry one belt of each Element around with you whenever you hunt, so that you can protect against any Element you may encounter. Alternately, you could wear a Dark Belt, which protects against each of the four basic Elements, plus the "Fifth Element", Darkness. This is an expensive proposition, however: such belts are extremely rare, and fetch a high price; furthermore, repairing them is equally expensive.
Bracers - Beginning at your 11th insight, you can wear Leather Bracers on each wrist. Bracers grant you a degree of protection, without the mana-draining side effect of gauntlets. Leather Bracers cannot be purchased, only picked up from a defeated monster. I've found that the easiest place to find Leather Bracers are in the first two areas of Astrid, as well as in the Crypt beginning about the 4th level. Iron Bracers can be worn after your 33rd insight. They can be purchased at the Armorer in Undine, and can be Enchanted or Consecrated to suit your needs; even without such blessings, though, they will raise your Dexterity.
Earrings - Your best bet will be to stick with Gold Earrings -- you can never have too much Strength. After your 14th insight, you can wear earrings that have been Enchanted or Consecrated. Personally, I wear Abundance, since they increase the amount of damage I do with each strike. Others that could prove useful are Blessed (increased chance of hitting your foes), or those that have been touched by Cail (increased Constitution) or Gramail (increased spell resistance). If worse comes to worse, though, plain Gold ones will suit you fine.
Greaves - Unlike other pieces of armor, the use of Greaves can be questionable. While they do offer a degree of protection, their mana-draining qualities can more than offset any protection they might give. Both Leather and Iron Greaves can be purchased from the Armorer in Abel; various Enchanted and Consecrated versions can be found in many different hunting grounds. All hunters, before using them, however, need to ask themselves if they need the extra protection the Greaves provide, and if they are willing to sacrifice the mana they will lose by wearing them. For myself, I carry around a pair of Abundance Iron Greaves, but I don't wear them unless I think I will need the protection, and the extra damage, they will provide against a specific creature.
Necklaces - Until you raise your ability in Martial Awareness to the point where you can determine a creature's defense Element, you are probably better off using a plain, non-Elemental necklace. I would recommend an Amber necklace ((+2 to damage)), available from the Mileth Armorer, or a Jade necklace ((+10 to hit)), sold by the Suomi Armorer. Elemental varieties of these and other necklaces are somewhat common, and are often discarded as "useless". You, however, should begin hanging onto these necklaces, until you have at least one of each Element, so that when you are able to determine a creature's defense Element, you can arm yourself against it. Even if you can't find one of each Element, though, the Armorer in Rucesion will sell you plain Elemental necklaces; they won't affect your damage or chance to hit, but they will change your attack Element. As with Belts, you can also take the option to use a Dark necklace, which will make you strong against any Element. But this is an even more expensive proposition than using a Dark belt, as necklaces are more rare, and more expensive to repair: if you go hunting with a Dark necklace, expect to have a repair bill in the six figures.
Potions - Believe it or not, I don't carry much with me in the way of potions. In my pack at any given time, you'll find but a few beothaich deum, and perhaps a spare hydele deum or two. Unless you know you're going to need them, leave them in the bank, or better yet, trade them or give them away. To fight as a White Bat is to avoid getting hit altogether; if done correctly, you won't need the protective qualities of betony deum nor the restorative powers of hydele deum. And, of course, once you learn Ao puinsein, you won't need personaca deum at all.
Scrolls - I've learned through experience that any hunter can find himself surrounded and overwhelmed by what was once his prey: always keep an Arcane Scroll with you to escape such situations.
For the purposes of this treatise, Tactics fall into two categories: solo hunting and group hunting.
Choosing your battlefield - In order to use these tactics, it is important that you have a good deal of room to move about; you should choose hunting grounds with wide, open spaces, and relatively sparse populations. The East Woodlands and the paths of Astrid best fit these criteria, but beware of large groups of Goblins and Kobolds. Parts of the Crypt and other underground hunting grounds can serve this purpose, as well, as long as you hunt in an area with an open floor plan; many parts of these areas are just too cramped to move about effectively. Dubhaim Castle can be deceptively open, but it is bursting at the seams with dangerous creatures, all of whom will zero in on you once you become visible; I don't recommend hunting alone here. Likewise, I have, on more than one occasion, gotten myself into trouble in the Piet Sewers, often finding myself cornered by multiple foes. (Thank Cail for Ambush!) Mehadi Swamp can be a good place to hunt Turtles and, later, Leeches, provided that you have enough space to move around, and your vision is not obscured by the evershifting walls of the labyrinth. Likewise, Pravat Cave can be decent hunting ground, provided you can see your prey and its allies; it can get crowded awfully quick, though.
Choosing your prey - Just as important as where to hunt is what to hunt. This is where Echo Sense and Martial Awareness come in handy: using these Skills, you can determine which of your available prey is weakest, along with their strengths and vulnerabilities, and even whether or not it would be worth your time to hunt that particular target. But choosing your prey is more than just examining each of your potential targets; you must also take into account their position in relation to other nearby creatures. Make sure you scout the area thoroughly before you begin your attack, to make sure that other monsters won't be coming to your target's aid; otherwise, you could find yourself the target of multiple spells.
Girding yourself for battle - After examining your prey, you should know, at least, its attack Nature, the element with which it is aligned. Knowing this, you can defend yourself against it, by equiping a belt of a like nature. Keep in mind that an element is weakest against itself: if a creature's attack Nature is Fire, equip a Fire belt. Later on, you will also be able to determine a creature's defense Nature, and you can, at that point, equip yourself with a necklace of an Element that is strong against it. (See Equipment.) Of course, you need to be familar with the Elements in order to do this. ((Make sure you read Kedian's chapter on the Wizard's Path in the DarkAges Manual, as it includes information on Elemental strengths and weaknesses.)) Also, this is the time to determine whether or not you will need any "extra" equipment you may be carrying. As I mentioned above, I carry around a set of Abundance Greaves that I don't normally wear due to their mana-draining qualities; if a creature looks particularly tough, though, I will put them on at this point.
Engaging the enemy - Now is when the battle begins. But remember, being invisible gives you the ability to position yourself in such a way as to give yourself a strategic advantage. In other words, don't attack your prey head on, attack from behind or the side. Not only is a foe easier to hit in those vulnerable areas, you'll do more damage when you hit, and the enemy will be disoriented for a few seconds and be unable to counterattack. (There are a few notable exceptions to this last point, notably the dubhaim, which seem to be able to counterattack immediately. I'm also told that certain classes of goblin and hobgoblin recover rather quickly, as well.)
I start off with a one-two punch, then follow it with Kick, High Kick, and Poison Punch. After my enemy turns around, I'll also throw a Dark Spear to cover my retreat. When to retreat is an important consideration: if your prey is weaker, you may want to take a hit or three before turning invisible; if your prey is stronger, you may want to turn invisible before it even turns around. ((Also not that this takes quick fingers: hotkeys are recommended. I have White Bat Stance in the first position on my "Secrets" screen, so when I'm ready to turn invisible, I quickly hit "d" to bring up that screen, then "1" to cast the Stance.)) After you've turned invisible, quickly back away from your enemy, or step to one side or the other, as he may be able to get in a strike or two after you first fade from sight. Make your way around him, keeping an eye out for other monsters ((using Tab to bring up the overhead view)), and get ready to attack him again once you're ready ((once your attacks have re-charged)).
Now is also a good time to use Echo Sense or Martial Awareness, both to practice using the Skill, and to gauge your success. Once you get to a certain level in those Skills, you'll be able to see how much damage you're doing with each attack. More importantly, you'll be able to recognize whether or not a creature is regenerating its health faster than you are able to damage it. Remember that discretion is the better part of valor: if you don't think you can finish a creature off, don't hesitate to walk away. However, if you're hunting in an area that another group or individual has chosen as their hunting ground, be sure to warn them of the creature. (This is especially important in areas such as Pravat Cave, where a creature may start out as harmless, then become hostile when someone attacks it. Once hostile, a Grimlock, for instance, will attack anyone, even those allied with the Grimlock Queen.)
Once you've ascertained that you will be able to finish your prey off, it's just a matter of repeating the process: maneuver behind it, throw all of your attacks at it, then cast your Stance before it hits you too many times.
A White Bat doesn't always have to fight alone; sometimes grouping with others can be rewarding, both in terms of the success of the hunt, and in terms of the camaraderie of the battlefield. The most important thing to keep in mind while hunting with others, though, is that you should not use your Stance except when you're in extreme trouble, and you know that your comrades will be able to defend themselves. Probably the biggest asset you will bring to the table is your ability to provide information to the others in your group, especially once you've mastered Echo Sense: let them know that you can tell them a creature's attack Element, and that they, like you, should be ready to defend against it. Also, your Dark Spear can come in handy when a creature is going after a vulnerable member of your party, such as a Priest or Wizard: successful use of this strike will plant the creature in its place, allowing your ally to move to a safer location.
The variety of groups is nearly infinite, but here are some examples of how you can best utilize the abilities of other Paths in your group:
Monks - With Monks of other Forms, you will pretty much be splitting the damage between you, an especially useful prospect with Scorpion Monks, with their enhanced defensive capabilities. With Draco and Kelberoth Monks, try to keep the attention of your prey on yourself, so that their powerful attacks can be struck from behind, allowing them to do even more damage. Hunting with another White Bat may be the best proposition, though: just follow the tactics outlined under Solo Hunting, but alternate between the two of you; they will be just as effective, but your prey will perish twice as fast.
Priests - Priests make an ideal addition to any group, from their defensive and offensive enhancements, to their ability to heal damage. With your ability to defend against a creature's attack Element, combined with a priest's armachd (and, better yet, one of the naomh aite spells), you'll be transformed into a defensive wall against any creature. A priest's beannich spell will allow you to hit more often, while fas deiras will allow you to deal more damage when you hit. The main disadvantages to hunting with priests are twofold: their physical vulnerability, and the tendency of creatures to go after them. Whenever hunting with a priest, protecting them can quickly become a primary concern, but it is well worth the effort.
Rogues - At lower insights, hunting with a Rogue can be tricky. Basically, you must draw the prey's attention, while your partner lays down traps, then you both must work to lead your prey over those traps. At the middle and higher insights, though, a Rogue can be as good, if not better, at solo hunting as a White Bat, especially after learning the Secret "Hide" and the Skill "Throw Surigam". At this point, such a partnership can be extremely effective. As when soloing, you'll both be invisible while scouting out your prey. Once you've decided on a target, you can attack from behind, as you normally would; meanwhile, your partner can lay down a trap or two in the opposite direction. When your prey turns towards you, you can cast your Stance, while your partner throws his soori or surigam at the prey, drawing its attention and leading it over the trap. Once the creature has stepped on the trap, he can turn invisible, and you can renew your attack, repeating the process all over again.
Warriors - With their better armor and multiple attacks, a Warrior is likely going to be able to absorb and deal more damage than you at any insight. Provided he is as well-equipped as you, with a variety of Elemental Belts, your ability to determine your prey's attack Element can make your partner even harder to hurt. If a priest is unavailable, you can provide your partner with some betony deum to further keep him protected, and some hydele deum to keep him healthy. With his "Rescue" skill, he can keep a prey's attention focussed on himself, allowing you to deal great damage from behind your prey.
Wizards - Most mages already have an affinity for Elemental relationships, so your ability to determine a creature's attack Element, and later their defense Element, meshes well with the abilities of a spell-slinger. By determining your prey's attack Element, you can allow your teammate to protect against it; further, with the fas nadur spell, a Wizard can enhance Elemental protection to a point of near-invulnerability. (For a good primer on using the fas nadur spell, all Wizards should read Larsius Vespers' "The Need to Know on Fas Nadur and Other Nadur Magics".) Even if you are unable to determine a creature's defense Element yet, most Wizards will have an Elemental nadur spell, allowing them to change a creature's defense Element to something else. For instance, a srad mage is likely to know the athar nadur spell, which changes a creature's defense Element to air, which is vulnerable to fire; if you are equipped with an Elemental Necklace, your attacks, as well as his spells, will then be more effective against your prey.