Currently playing: Nox Archaist

October 31, 2013

Aethra Chronicles - Reaching the critical phase

I left the capital Stormhaven in an attempt to search for a mean to translate the book of prophecies I had found. My only clue was that an oracle might know how to translate it and that I should search for the oracle in the desert and ask about it in the town of Naedarn.

I had no idea where the desert might since I haven´t any worldmap of the game but I decided to go west from the capital and follow the coastline. There I found a bandit cave in the mountains that I cleared before moving on.

The overland map is quite nicely drawn and I found smaller towns along my way before coming to a huge marsh. At a certain spot in the marsh I was attacked by a huge monster which I had no means of defeating at this stage so I reloaded and passed this place, trying to memorise the location. My exploration took time and time means money to pay for the upkeep of the mage and fighter in my group. I think the ask for at least 500 gold per week and my starting gold when leaving the capital was around 3.000 gold. 

At certain places your assistance will be sought

After some exploration I came to a small village in which I met a woman that said she had dreamt of my coming. The village was in dire need of help. The village had been attacked by evil creatures led by some sort of intelligence directing the attacks. Only if the source was destroyed the woman believed it would be possible for the village to manage on their own and fend off the lesser evils. They had located the creatures lair to the mountains in the north and also said that they would be willing to send their warrior Timmar to assist me.

Pretty well equipped in my eyes
I offered our help and looked for Timmar. When I found him I accepted him without being able to look at his character sheet. He turned out to be a strong warrior at level 10, fully equipped with his own inventory. However, I did not intend to undertake this mission just yet. I preferred to look up the book of prophecies instead. I took Timmar with me and continued my exploration. 

Selling equpment at a general store

I eventually reached the boundaries to how far west I could go and begun to travel south. There I came across the small village Naedarn in which I rested before exploring the nearby mountains. There was nothing in the city itself that helped me in my quest for the oracle - or anything other for that matter.

In the near mountains just southeast of the village I found an entrance leading me to a three level underground complex filled with undead. For the first time my priest was in the center and he used the spell Exorcism  with success against the undead. The spell affects all creatures and more heavily the weaker they are.

I didn´t know what I was here for except for plundering this place. I found a lot of good items, amongst them a bow of truth which gave +3 shots and +25 in perception and + 25 in detect traps. Quite handy to be carried around by one of my front fighters. It also inflicts 15-25 damage compared with an elven longbow that "only" inflicts 8-14, so it is a very heavy upgrade in my ranged capability.

I have found that chests generally have random equipment and if you are lucky you could get some magical rings from them. Otherwise they often contains scrolls, potions or valuable stones except for mundane weapons and armours. The latter part has already become quite obsolete for me unless I find a ++ item. That gives either improved chances in your weapon skill or armour bonus.

The first level of three filled with undead

Anyway, after a few hours and several trips back to the closest town for resting, I cleared the dungeon. It was just a distraction but gave me valuable experience points and new good equipment. I begun to explore the area just south of there which led me to the desert. To make a long story short this is what happened:

  • I found some sort of fire elemental in the desert. He said he could give me more information about the book of prophecies but to do that he required that I gave him a desert rose. That was quite easy since they grew just northeast of him a short walk away. He then told me that the only one able to translate the book was the oracle (which I already knew) but the new information was that the oracle could be found in the swamp region in the north. 

  • I located the swamps to the north and soon found a deserted villaged in which I found the oracle. He could help to interpret it but - of course - not without a favour. He has been trapped in this world for a long time and he wants to get home. The only way to leave requires that I collect four gems of power for him. I have already found two such missions but decieded to save them to later. A wise decision it seems, now that I know why I would like the gems of power.

In the middle of this swamp is an overgrown village

Nothing is for free, not even from the oracle

  • He could also give me some information about the future as a fortune teller. I learned that demonic creatures walk the land and the only way to battle these is to find three grey swords. He also told me to find the seals of earth and water. They represent some sort of keys.
So now I had some huge quests ahead of me which will take a lot of time to complete. I still don´t know how the book of prophecies is tied to my mission but I am sure I will find out eventually. I returned back to the regions around the capital Stormhaven and increased my levels to 6 or 7. Timmar was a pretty good fighter addition to my group (even though he seems to be a ranger) so I have no need to switch him right now.

The training gets more and more expensive the higher levels you attain so I spent a few thousand gold to raise levels but fortunately I could afford it. My pool of gold is over 10.000 right now so I will be able to pay for the wages without problems. I now returned back to the northwest in which I picked up Timmar. Now it was time to help the village fend off the evil creatures and try to gain my first gem of power.

The cave lied in the mountains just north of the village and spans at least 6 different screens. I have tried to clear this place at three separate times. I can manage around three combats before I feel I have to return to rest and regain my spell points and hitpoints.

Just north of the village lies the caves

I must admit I am getting quite tired of the combat in the game. It is quite repetitive and the tactical maps are almost the same in the caves all the time. So far my only tactics is to retreat with the two mages and let them cast the group haste spell. If the battle is a tougher one I also cast Tower of Might on my warriors or fling away some mage bolts or pyrotechnics although I don´t think they are any good. 

I am not sure if I will continue to play this game to the bitter end or not. I could barely put one hour a day into it so it will take quite some time before I will make major progress. This point exists in all games I play. When the excitement of everything new about the game has settled and you stop being surprised by the game you find that you must have the patience to keep going.

Meanwhile, I am waiting for patch 6 to Rome 2 Total War. I have told myself to buy the game after that patch since I loved Rome 1 but it is sad that Rome 2 was so incomplete when it was released. Anyway, that is another chapter and we´ll see what happens. Either the review comes up next or I continue with the game. 

October 30, 2013

Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore enters kickstarter

The new roleplaying game Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore that I wrote about a few weeks ago will be launched at kickstarter Wednesday, November 6 in order to raise funds for the game. The last eight months a working prototype of the game has been developed but in order to secure the project to its end it will require backers to fund the completion of the project.

There is a special offer for early backers the first 24 hours as follows:

  • Everyone who backs the project during the first day of the campaign will receive a FIRST DAY BACKER badge on our forums and will also receive an exclusive in-game item that will not appear anywhere else in the game. This particular bonus will no longer be applied once the first 24 hours of the campaign have passed.
  • We have another special perk in place for the first 48 hours! If we manage to gather at least 1,500 backers within those crucial first 48 hours, we will create an exclusive cover for the Kickstarter Editions of the game! This cover, which will also serve as the game’s initial loading screen, will not be available to players who will purchase the game online or in stores later.

For more information about the game, see their homepage.

October 19, 2013

Aethra Chronicles - In search of the mainquest

I cleared out the small underground base inhabited by orcs that haunted the small village. It consisted of only one screen so it went quickly fast with perhaps 3 or 4 fights. The good thing is that so far there are a fixed number of encounters that seems to occupy certain rooms or parts of a dungeon. When you have cleared them you won´t get into any other fight in that area. I like this system because it allows you to retreat back to safety without being harassed on the way. Combined with the fact that you can always run from combat this is a little bit too good to be true. 

Anyway, even though the fights in the cave hardly gave me more than 1.000 xp or even less, I was rewarded not only by an amulet given to me but also 1.000 xp each. They where very welcome I can tell you. I decided to leave this area in the northwest and go back to recruit a good thief. I want to try out the deadly strike skill and also let the preassure of my mage Rainwill to be the groups thief.

Farley, the groups tank

I went to several towns in hunt for thieves to recruit but it was only in the capital Stormhaven where I found some. I wasn´t that impressed by them at their level 4. They where only slightly better than my mage and did have a pretty low skill score in deadly strike. I decieded to go for a new mage instead. One that had magic schools I did not possess and that also had the spell that hastes a party member. I finally found him.

Fighting orcs

My priest Aurora

The mage I found was a level 5 spellcaster called Suela. She mastered spell schools my other mage didn´t possess. I was now ready to look for the monastery somewhere in the north. I did have some rude maps but didn´t take much notice on them until I stumbled upon a man who said the monastery had been overrun and that he was the only one to survive. I could ask about the book of Doom but the man didn´t know where it was. I had no option but to enter the monastery in search of it amongst the evil that had taken over.

The monastery took me some time to clear since I had to return back to an inn to rest. It is not possible to rest in order to gain hitpoints or spellpoints. I also avoided the harde fights until at the last minute. The monastery contained some fine items and a scroll that said that the book had been delivered to the guardian for safe keeping. So now I understand why the red dragon had it. Anyway, after I was finished in the monastery my group was ready to gain  a level. My next task was to return to the guardian and try to clear out the caves. This was the most challenging task so far. The caves was filled with orcs and bandits but the most difficult fight was against the dark elves. I took me several hours to clear this place.

The most dangerous part in the fights at this stage is that the enemy melee fighters could reach my weak mages in just two turns. I always try to let my fighters kill enemy spellcasters as fast as possible using ranged weapons together with the spell Aynstyne's Accelerated Action which doubles the attacks and movements. However, enemies often comes in sheer numbers and many of the have ranged attacks. I have yet to see anyone striking down my dwarven fighter with over 200 hitpoints, but easily enough one or two of my mages. I haven´t found any good offensive spells for them yet, except magebow which hardly seems worth the effort. Things are not easier with a system that don´t show enemies hitpoints or status in any other way than that you have to use the skill monster lore, something I am quite lazy to use except against single, strong creatures.

The monster lore skill gives you valuable information about your enemies
The red dragon is just north of my group

It took me at least three sessions to clear out the caves for the guarding. During that time I had to travel back and forth to the nearest town to heal and also loose a lot of time which meant I had to pay the wage for my two new companions. They cost around 350 - 400 gold/week.  I only have 3.000 gold left and I begin to see the need for constant supply of loot and gold in order to keep up. One way is to run from combats until I have found more gold or items to sell. I have begun to sell scrolls which give me some valuable gold as well. 

The guardian rewarded me with the book Prophecy of doom, and I returned it to the man requesting it, now living in the city north of the capital. He told me he had no means to translate the text but that he had heard rumours of an oracle that might. It is said this oracle lives in the desert somewhere and he suggested I should look for more information in the village Naedarn. I have no idea where that village could be and now begin to worry how much gold I will loose before I have found my next source of goldincome. Nevertheless, before leaving my mage Rainwill and pries Aurora increased their levels so now we all are at level 5.

I have to correct myself in my former post. The skill points you earn while increasing level is random, also the amount of hitpoints you get when spending them on the skill fortitude. The rest of the skills increases at fixed amounts based on your attributes.

Before leaving for my unknown destiny I had to sell some stuff and reorganise my items a little. I am still looking for a good thiev but haven´t found any I like yet. I am also not sure I can affor one more right now. Regarding my group I can say the following so far:

  • The priest performs pretty bad in combat. He have no offensive spells and his only strength so far is that he can heal others and have pretty high defense and could soak up attacks.
  • My two mages are mainly used to haste my warriors. Nothing more since I want to save my spellpoints.
  • The two fighters is the ones the whole group relies on. Equipped with elven longbows, power rings and hasted, they normally take out two opponents each every turn. But only lowlevel enemies. Now I have met tougher opponents so I am glad they could take out one enemy. They both have different magical swords but nothing that is overly powerful. 
My plans are to go west from the capital and see what I will find....

October 10, 2013

Aethra Chronicles - Building up

One of the first things I did when leaving the crypt in my last session was to recruit my first npc hireling, a level 4 fighter. I let him take parts of my loot to equip himself and then bought some more. I have to pay him around 100 gold/week but I haven´t found an easy way to keep track of the days or time yet. It seems night and day cycles only occur on the overland map. I don´t wan´t to risk loosing most of my money to pay up for my hirelings this early in the game before I know how hard it will be to get more money.

Eventually the last city screen will take you to the overland map

I returned to the burned out houses in the south of the city which was obviously a thieves den. This part was quite hard and just after two combats I had to retreat in order to rest at an inn. I haven´t found a way to camp underground yet and I am not sure that is possible either. What I did find out though was that if you are using a light source of some sort, not only does the explored parts of the map stay that way when you reenter the complex, but it also radiates several hexes in each direction. This was a much improved experience of how I perceived this in my first post.

My first mission was to recover a stolen painting
This game is pretty strange because you could run from combat and you will almost always succeed in doing that (just like in Legend of Faerghail). Each of your character has the option to run and if one succeeds, all retreat from combat. If all fails that means the enemies get one round to close in but that happens very seldom and the worst case scenario is that enemies might shoot at you with ranged weapons or magic in the first round. A cheap cost to pay in order for a retreat. I haven´t found any mandatory combats so even if the encounter suggests it is a boss or leader you can flee and they will never leave any items. I don´t like that design decision but let´s see if there are any mitigating circumstances for later on.

I used this system to my advantage to only take fights that I knew I would win or that I felt would give me much needed experience points. Or I would put myself in a position where the tactical map would be used to my advantage. But they where pretty far from each other and instead I used this opportunity to look for treasure in hope of getting more powerful weapons and armours.

The den was pretty large. Stretching several screens in every direction and with two levels. It is pretty hard to see items laying around except for chests so it is easy to miss out things unless they are on a table to begin with. Your first three characters are also checked for perception now and then in order to discover secret doors or find traps.

After struggling through this den for an hour and plundnering it for all valuables in chests while trying to find secret doors and avoid any traps, I finally found a room containing the painting I was looking for. It wasn´t easy to see. Many rooms have furniture but it is hard to see if there are items on them.

Anyway, I next had to backtrack my way to the exit. This time I could afford to get into one or two fights and the help of my second warrior Farimar did much to improve my combat skill. I have equipped both my fighters with improved long bows and they are quite adept with those. At least they get a chance to strike one time before the enemies have reached melee and they are perfect to take out mages lurking behind the enemies.

The town north of Stormhaven i Drensea
Anyway, when gave back the painting the man told me that he did not have the book of prophecy but knew that monks in a monastery far to the north would have it in their possession. So much for my hopes of progress in this town. I reequipped myself for venturing overlands and carefully outfitted my group. I had enough experience to gain one level each. At this point you are taken to the character screen where you could spend a fixed amount of skill points on skills of your choosing. I continued to spread the skills so that my priest would be the best trader, my mage the best reader of scrolls, pick locks and disarm traps and my fighters to travel through mountains and fighting. You are not given more hitpoints. You have to spend skillpoints into fortitude to gain any and these are totally random which makes reloading quite attractive.

I had found a lot of gems of different sorts (sapphires, diamonds etc) which I belive is only used for selling since I haven´t found any use of them. They gave me much needed money to buy a power ring which gives a stunning +10 shots with the longbow amongst other boosts. This really helped up my coming combats.

What I soon discovered was that I had totally underestimated my mage. I hadn´t notice he could choose from different spellbooks when his casting sheet is on display. Now I let him get a spell school where the first spell is like a haste in AD&D. It will double up my melee attacks and movement points for the character who receives the spell. This has greatly improved my combat abilities.

I went to the north and soon entered the mountains. After some explorations I came across a red dragon. He said he was a guardian of this place and was in possession of the the book prophecies of doom and also revealed that it could be mine if I did a favour for him. Clearing out the nearby caves. Hmm...I wonder if he actually have the book or not. Someone must have been lying to me unless it is supposed I am to get to the monastery first only to find out it has been stolen by the dragon or whatever.

I just make a short visit to the caverns to find out about the opposition. I had no intention to undertake this mission right now and so instead opted to clear out some bandits hiding in the northwest. That would yield me 1.000 gold in reward. The cave wasn´t that hard to find but it was full of traps which made it hard to navigate. I carefully choose to battle a few of the bandits in favourable positions but otherwhise elected to explore the whole cave first and gathered some good armour to improve my armour ratings.

I had run from several fights and in the end when I had finished exploring the caves they where suddenly gone. I suspected I must have wiped them out but when I returned to the village from where I got the mission he said that there where still some bandits living. I thought this might have been a bug so I reloaded my game from the cave and also restarted the whole game but still no encounters anywhere in the cave. I don´t know if I am supposed to find more caves or bandits outside of the cave to finish the mission. I left it as it where and travelled westward.

There I came upon a small village that where troubled at night by creatures coming from the woods. I explored the wooden region with a small cemetary and found a way down. There is where I am right now. I was startled to get into a fight with the first encounter of a Minotaur. He took tremendous amount of damage before he died and failed to injure me. Now my explorations will continue from here.

I have taken a close look at the XP gained from combats. It is not very much. Perhaps you get 200-300 xp per fight at this stage and you need at least 5.000 xp to reach a new level for the time being. That means I have to do a lot more fighting in the game.

October 8, 2013

Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore - New RPG on its way

Yesterday I was contacted by Guido Henkel that informed me that his latest RPG project "Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore" released its first in-game graphics of the game. 

The game is a first-person, party-based roleplaying game with turn-based combat with focus on the story and character development. If that holds true I for one are very interested in seeing it successfully released and I am really looking forward to it.

Guido Henkel is not an unknown developer of RPGs. He was involved in the Realms of Arkania trilogy (The third part Shadows over Riva was revisited on my blog in 2011), Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment and Neverwinter nights just to name a few of his RPGs.

The game is developed by the independent developer and publisher G3 Studios in Southern California and the planned release will be in 2014. This is what they say about the game:

"Feeling somewhat unhappy with the current state of the computer role-playing game industry where open worlds and quest hunts dominate the genre, we felt it was time to take a step back and re-examine what made Golden Era role-playing games such as the “Realms of Arkania” series, the “Wizardry” games or the “Might & Magic” games such memorable and lasting experiences."

This is just what I wanted to read and my expectations will be held high. Some of the features are:

  • Single player, first person role-playing game
  • Party-based play (four player-, plus two non-player characters)
  • Six races and eight classes to choose from
  • Over 34 unique character traits, plus base attributes
  • Party characters interact with each other
  • Turn-based combat
  • Indoor and outdoor environments
  • Interactive game world
  • Recipe-based crafting and enchanting
  • Involving, adaptive storyline with many key players and twists
  • Factions for intriguing political set-ups
  • Tons of monsters to battle
  • Intelligent dialogue system

This game is now on my watchlist.

October 5, 2013

Aethra Chronicles - Revisited

While browsing the internet I came across an old RPG called Aethra Chronicles. A few screenshots and a short introduction revealed it was released in 1994 as a shareware game. Later it seems it was released as freeware although I haven´t found any official site for this old game. Nevertheless, this game seems to be an old lost gem. So I decided to try it out and give a small report about it.

This game has to be run under Dosbox. It was no problem in getting it to work. It was thought this game was to be the first in a trilogy, but I have not found the other ones. After a short animation during the intro you are taken to the main menu where you can create a new game. The manual is very short and brief. It only briefly discuss the game mechanics but not much more. 


The background is that your father was the kings main paladin\champion. A title inherited many years back. But events led to the kidnapping of the new kings child and blame was set on your father for the security breach and so he was imprisoned. No one knows where the kings child is or whom is responsible but unless you can find the child you will never be able to recuperate your fathers position and in that lies your legacy as well. So with your two best friends you decide to do something about this.

You start with three characters, wheras one is yourself. You have to roll-up each and every one and pick a race, class and distribute skills points. You start at level 3 while your comrades only start at level 2. It is said this game relies on the Runequest game mechanics but since I have never played the tabletop Runequest RPG, I have no clue.

The lovely re-rolling manouver that could take forever

I didn´t want to spend too much time on creating my first party to try this game out so I only spent a few minutes re-rolling each one. You have the usual attributes like strength, agility, constitution, intelligence and wisdom. Then there are the more unusual ones like Presence which is how you interact with others and influence the skill trading. And then there is Memory which affects mythic lore (the knowledge of monsters) and Read Runes. Last but not least, there is Reasoning, the ability to solve problems that affect woods lore and mountaineering (decides the speed you travel through  mountains).

Here you spend your skill points during character generation

I had to roll up all three at once without the ability to save in between each character which is common. That means I certainly made some mistakes along the way. For example, it usually isn´t good that two characters are very good in the same lore or non-combat skill. Anyway, there are quite some skills in the game which makes it more interesting so far. You have pick locks, disarm traps, item identify, spell list, spell points and detect traps just to mention a few of them. Since we started out beyond level 1, I had the chance to select first the skills for level 1 then for level 2 etc. 

But skills and attributes are also decided by which race you choose - but in what way the manual give no information. You can choose between human, dwarf, elf, half-elf and hobbit and then you have eleven character classes from the traditional fighter, rogue cleric, and sorcerer to the more special ones like ashikari (warrior mage) and mentalist (spellcaster who manipulates the mind). I decided to go for a dwarf fighter as my main person and then one half-elf cleric and one elven conjurer. I have no idea which composition will be the best but I am sure I will have some second thoughts about this in just a few hours of gaming.

The old Vizier, my only friend

Right at the start, I am told by the old Vizier that there probably was dark magic involved in the kidnapping and that my father had even mentioned something about an evil cult. As a first step he wants me to get a book called "Prophecies of Doom" from a merchant in order to learn more.

 So I set out to explore the city. Travelling takes places on an overland map with small buildings and with your party even smaller. You cannot se on the building which kind of building it is so you have to try to bump into them to see if it is a shop, guild or - as is most common - nothing of interest. The city - which happens to be the capital - spans several screens in every directions. There is a castle, a cemetary and several districts. You could always choose to speak with the shopkeeper, innkeeper or whoever you find in the houses. Most of them have some rumours to tell you and I found out that a priest seems to have dissappeared in the cemetary and that there are bandits north of the city. 

Rumours worth investigating

The overland map with the city in the south

We don´t start with any weapons or armours at all but have a few thousand in gold so my first task was to get some basic weapons and armours. I had to save before buying anything since you don´t get any information about class restrictions. The only way is to try. After half an hour I had let my own character - the dwarven fighter Farley - get a Flail with a shield and some basic armour. My half-elven Cleric got a morningstar and some armour and ended up having far better armour rating than my fighter. My conjurer - the elf Rainwill - couldn´t wear any armour at all. 

My father speaks to me from his cell

 I also find my father imprisoned in the castles own prison. He wanted to talk to me and said he had found out from his own sources that someone or something had managed to open a gateway into the dimensions of demons. A human sacrifice is one way of opening the gateway even though my father didn´t think the kings child would be needed for that. Nevertheless he urged me to investigate this.

The castle, the king has no time to meet me

After awhile I found the merchant that had the book the vizier told me to get in the very beginning. He wanted me to do a favour first which was to recover a painting of this wife that had been stolen by thieves supposedly hiding in some ruins in the south of the city.  At this stage I had two concrete options to explore. I had found a house to enter in the south part of the city which leads me to believe this might be the house I am looking for in order to get the stolen painting. But I had also found an entrance that leads below the cemetary. The latter part sounded more like a thrill so we went down there. 

The cemetary with the entrance down in the SW corner

 When entering dungeons the perspetive stays in a topdown view of your group. Everything is dark but gradually the map is discovered for every step you take. Unfortunately the map returns to black if I save and restore a game. I lack torches and lanterns. Perhaps that will have an effect ? I only managed to explore a few steps before I was assaulted by skeletons. The view shifts to a top down tactical battle field which takes into account the exact locations of where you stood. That could give you some slight tactical advantages since you might be able to block door entrances. That remains to be tested.

Combat gives you a new set of icons to choose from. Every character has a move scoore and it seems at least one remaining is required in order to make a melee attack. You could choose to attack with a hand-to-hand weapon, unarmed, with ranged weapons, casting spells, parry or retreat. If you retreat it seems you end up randomly a few squares from the hex in which the combat begun but other than that I haven´t seen any drawbacks. When attacking your eligible targets are highlighted and you have to  select them in order to place an attack. I let my conjurer Rainwill use his spell magebow in my first combat just to try it out. It was pretty effective but cost 3 or 4 spellpoints and I only have 12 so after that he was literally useless in all other combats. 

My cleric is my melee fighter because of his high armour rating, while my figher fires his longbow until the enemy gets close. The actual damage dealt or received is never displayed. Instead you are given a short description of the attack which after a while lets you understand how successful and hard it was. You could also use mythic lore to get detailed information about your foe, including its special attacks, hit points, defense rating etc. We´ll see if that will be useful later on in the game.

After combat you don´t get any information about XP received and so far no foes have left any equipment. I did find a chest though which I looted for a good shield and a weapon together with some gold. While I explored the dungeon I got information that I discovered a secret door. This is based on the Perception attribute and checked automatically. It is too early to know wether there are a fixed amount of combats or if they are random. There have so far not been any context based texts associated with them.

This underground complex turned out to be larger than what I had thought. It spans several screens and combats now involve zombies, skeletons and even a ghost. But the latter was too hard for me to tackle. After exploring the first screen fully I tried to camp to regain lost spell points. It didn´t work and I figured it might be because I lack light or any other sort of equipment. I left this place for later and returned to the city. My plan now is to return later on to this place but first I want to search for the thieves.

My first impressions so far is good, as they always are in the beginning of a new game. The interface is a bit clumsy and not very intuitive so it gets me frustrated. For example, you cannot go through each and everyone of your partymembers easily. You have to exit the screens and select another member manually. So a bit of struggling with the interface is required. It is also not very responsive. I have no idea when I will gain a level since the manual does not hold that information but I believe I have to find the proper guild to train. 

One last thing. You could recruit other members at different guilds. I don´t know the costs or drawbacks with that. I can think of two. You either have to share the XP points between all your members or they require a continously amount of gold to stay. I think I would do well with another fighter right now. But let´s see what happens later on for right now I just want to return to the game....