Seven classes to choose from. Seven strong options.
I suppose, in many ways, that it was better than the alternative, of having no good classes available. Or only one OK class, that I was forced to pick.
No, options were good, even if I was going to end up with a serious case of decision paralysis.
“What’s the worst-case scenario on picking a class?” I mused out-loud, hoping Librarian would help me out with some analysis.
“That it’s weak, and you hate everything about it, what it means, what it represents, and what you need to do with it.” Librarian promptly answered. “The worst-case isn’t a bad class, the worst-case is a class that actively harms you.”
“Like my fear about the [Prophet of Papillion] class.”
“Exactly! The other worse-case scenario is picking a class that actively draws hostility to you.” Librarian pointed out.
I spent a moment thinking about that.
“Like the class Hesoid had. The plague-generating one.” I said.
“Right. Here, they seem to hate Void mages with a passion.” She observed, letting me work out the rest of it.
I quickly thought about what Void was. Dark and Dark, and I had Celestial already.
“Do I have a level 8 Void mage to reset to?” I asked Librarian.
She shook her head.
“No, just a level 8 Darkness mage. Should be easy enough to get a Void mage offered at 32. Probably be weak, but doable.”
I thought about that for a brief moment before shaking my head and discarding the idea entirely.
“No, let’s stick with the current offerings.” I said. “They’re all solid, and none of them actively harm me.” I mused out loud. “It’s a question of balancing the present against the future.”
“Right. Now, what’s the argument for the classes with the more powerful stats now?” Librarian asked.
“Escaping, freedom, survival.” I said, rapidly listing the three points off.
“Are we in a cage, with an execution scheduled for next week? Are we chained to other slaves, about to be auctioned off? If the dwarves are as good as their word, and we stick around 30 years, able to explore and enjoy this city, what harm have we come to?” Librarian asked, and I winced.
She had a bit of a point. It could be so much worse. I was a favored bird in a golden cage, not a slave forced to mine lead, or worse. I had guards, and not only was nearly my every need taken care of, but they went above and beyond to provide any luxury I wanted. The biggest concern was my friends and family dying in an accident before I could make it back.
That, and my violent distaste for anything resembling shackles or chains that I hadn’t chosen for myself.
“Let’s look at classes with a balance for the future and the present then?” Librarian asked with an amused smile.
I gave her a smile as warm as the cozy fire in front of us.
“Thank you Librarian. Really. I don’t know what I’d do without you. Probably get lost wandering all the options.”
“Yeah, I think that’s why the System has guides. Could you imagine otherwise?”
I thought about my first class up, and the thousands, if not tens of thousands of classes I was offered, along with all the questions I’d had.
“Disaster.” I said.
“Yup! Complete disaster.” Librarian agreed.
Focus. I thought to myself. Librarian was me, and I was her, and I could imagine the wild tangents we could get on if I allowed it.
“So, in conclusion, since we’re not at immediate, dire risk of dying or worse, we don’t need to hyper-focus on a strong class here and now.” I reasoned out. “Need to balance the future with the present.”
Librarian gave a curt nod.
“And the far future.” She pointed out. “Not just 10 years from now, but 100 years. 1000 years.”
With a small amount of reluctance, I cut [Radiant Slayer of the Endless Formorian Swarm]. If I was going to be executed in the morning, currently a slave of some vile [Slave Owner], or in some worse situation, I’d probably take the class, just for the raw, immediate boost of power. I wasn’t though, which left me with [Light of Truth], [Radiant Immolator], [The Rising Dawn], [Butterfly Mystic], [Sentinel-Adept], and [Acolyte of Asura].
I was eyeing up [Light of Truth] next. It was on the shortlist due to the extra stats, and I did like how it was similar to [Light of Hope], my early Light healing class. However, it was in the running due to the “escape” potential, with the extra stats boosting my combat capabilities enough to help me escape.
Which brought it in direct comparison, interestingly enough, with [Radiant Immolator]. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the class yet, if I was taking it or not, but for my purposes, it was a fair comparison.
On skills: [Radiant Immolator] was far better for fighting and escaping. Everything it had was combat-focused. Heck, even the flying skill was combat-focused! [Light of Truth] had objectively worse skills for “fight out and escape”, although it had a slightly better flying skill.
On the stats: [Radiant Immolator] was +40 Mana, +40 Mana Regeneration, +160 Magic Power, +160 Magic Control per level. That was strongly tilted towards “Just do damage”. [Light of Truth] had +48 Free Stats, +8 Dexterity, +64 Speed, +160 Mana, +160 Mana Regen, +160 Magic Power, +160 Magic Control per level.
They were tied on the Magic Power and Magic Control per level, which translated to “The skills would be just as strong as each other.”
Assuming the same level gain, I’d be just as powerful from a raw “How much damage does my new [Nova] skill do?” perspective… before the fact that [Radiant Immolator] would get a better [Nova] skill than [Light of Truth] came into play.
Then, long-term, while I didn’t enjoy killing and fighting, I did have my Radiance mage class for my own self-defense.
In [Light of Truth]’s defense, added mana and regeneration was strong for fights. However, it was a small stone on the heavily-tilted scales.
In conclusion - [Radiant Immolator] was better than [Light of Truth] in every way but one I could easily measure right now, which meant I could cut it with a clear conscience.
That also gave me some potential avenues for exploration and comparison. I’d tackle that in just a moment.
[Acolyte of Asura] was objectively the “best” class of the lot, if I could use it. It met all my requirements, it was powerful, it worked short-term, long-term, and opened up a whole new world of spellcasting to me.
“Right. Pros and cons of [Acolyte of Asura].” I asked Librarian. “How does this go horribly wrong for me, and what needs to happen for this to go right, and what are the chances of both?” I asked her.
“Wrong - a bunch of skills get replaced when you take the class. You don’t figure out how to cast properly, and you essentially cripple the class for years, if not decades before you work it out. All while the class is effectively disabled, you also wouldn’t be leveling it.”
“I’d still have [Radiance Conjuration]. Deadly beams - my main attack and defense - would still be available, while enjoying improved stats.” I pointed out.
“Sure, but no [Blaze] weakens it, no [Nova] lowers how much damage you can burst out, no [Talaria] means you’re stuck on the ground.” Librarian said, ticking the points off her fingers.
“Right, fine, how hard do you think it’d be to work out casting magic? Clearly, Asura figured it out, and others must’ve also worked it out. We can’t be the first. Plus!” I said, getting excited. “I saw Asura using dozens and dozens of spells while fighting Lun’Kat. I have [Pristine Memories], I can recreate it!” I said, working myself up.
I jumped up, and walked to another part of the room.
“Chair! Table! Pen! Paper!” I clipped out to Librarian, having all of them appear in front of me. I sat down at the desk and focused, ignoring the barely-repressed mirth behind me.
“Ok, the first one.” I said, putting the pen on the paper, focusing and trying to remember what I’d seen.
… part of it had been behind Asura. I had a lot of pieces, but not the full puzzle. That was fine. There’d been more.
“... Second one.” I said.
It’d been at a fairly steep angle, not letting me get a good view.
“THIRD ONE!” I groused.
It’d been at a good angle, and unobscured, but I couldn’t remember all the details. Not due to a lack of memory, but because it’d just been too Goddess-cursed far away to see it all in the first place.
Librarian’s chuckles became full-on gales of laughter.
“I saw someone operate on a man once! I’m sure I can operate on a baby!” She said, wiping some tears of laughter from her eyes. “Come on. Asura was casting the most complex, the most powerful magic possible, the culmination of all her knowledge and experience. We don’t even know the fundamentals behind it all, let alone have the power and control to cast the same spells Asura was casting. For all we know, each one is entirely unique, with no fundamental bits.”
I grumbled to myself, idly drawing circles with my pen.
“Fine. I can’t learn from Asura’s casting.” I grumbled. “I can use it for reference later on, but I won’t figure out the fundamentals. Maybe if I had a team of researchers and a few decades we could work it all out, but…”
“But yeah, we’d need to find someone else to learn from.” Librarian said. “Which makes this the high-risk, high-reward option.”
“Odds that the dwarves have someone to learn from, and odds that they’d teach me?” I asked Librarian.
“Pulling a number out of my ass… 20% that they have someone. We haven’t seen hide or hair of anyone casting like they do, and we have seen a few clans now. 95% chance that they’d teach us though, they like you and want to keep you happy. Only if it’s some giant secret, or someone as important as you are would they say no. Keep in mind though, this probably isn’t something that can get picked up overnight. It’d probably take years of study.”
“So, a 19% chance pulling numbers out of your rear end that things work out.” I grouched.
“Yeah, and spend years working on it. But that’s if we want to learn stuff now. We can always learn it later.” Librarian pointed out.
I put [Acolyte of Asura] off to the side. I’d re-evaluate it against whatever other class I picked out of the remaining four. It wasn’t the winner, but it wasn’t getting cut either. It’d be easier to argue for and against the merits against a single class.
That left the four light green classes left. [Radiant Immolator], [The Rising Dawn], [Butterfly Mystic], and [Sentinel-Adept]. They were all fairly close to each other, and I basically needed to have a little tournament to decide the winner.
Actually - that was a pretty good idea. I could have two classes go head to head, decide which one I liked more, then repeat with the winners.
I looked at [Sentinel-Adept] vs [The Rising Dawn] and sighed. Nope, it wouldn’t be that easy to decide.
Time to do this methodically.
Stats and skills first.
[Radiant Immolator] had 400 points of stats, and all of them were Magic stats. The total wasn’t as high as some of the other classes, but the distribution was in a good place.
[The Rising Dawn] had 380 points worth of stats, and again all of them were magic. The distribution supported long, continuous casting sessions, which I approved of. The raw total wasn’t as high as [Radiant Immolator], but the distribution on each was skewed towards what each class wanted to do.
[Butterfly Mystic] was crushing it with stats. 436 points in total, but the distribution was suboptimal. Only 280 of them were in magic stats, with the remaining 156 being in physical stats. They were slanted towards “Keep me alive and balanced”, and there was something to be said for the tyranny of sheer stats. The distribution could be quite a lot better though, I was less than thrilled with where I’d end up.
It was easily the most complicated analysis. It seemed to support traveling, moving around, lasting in harsher conditions, which only [Sentinel-Adept] seemed to hint at.
At the same time, I was basically complaining that I’d be tougher and faster, and that my strength would start rising again.
When all the stats were magical, it was easy to compare them. [Radiant Immolator] had more stats than [The Rising Dawn], no question about it. I wasn’t quite going to go into the analysis of Mana+Regen VS Control+Power, beyond the fact that both were distributed the way the class wanted. [Butterfly Mystic] brought up the question “What’s a physical stat worth?”
I’d finish up that line of thinking in a minute.
[Sentinel-Adept] had 432 stats total, with 368 of them being magical. They were arranged almost the exact same way I’d arranged [The Dawn Sentinel], which I found nice.
Right. I had the stats and their distribution, and quite frankly it was a crapshoot. All of them had stats to support what the class wanted to do. None of them were bad, but [Sentinel-Adept] was the clear winner. I hesitated to call [Butterfly Mystic]’s distribution bad, because speed and vitality were important. It just felt weird that I’d be getting so much of them, and it made it a bit of an outlier.
Ok, stats, at the end of the day, were a bit of a crapshoot. I wasn’t getting anything from them. Nothing was jumping out at me as a “Cut me!” or “Pick me!”
Next up, flying skills!