Learning the timing of movements, timing of swings/swingouts, speed, and the range at which beasts can sense you is an important part of an exile's career. Some fighters and healers have been playing for years and act like they don't know what a beast will do. But luckily, all creatures fall into a few categories of basic movement, as well as a few categories of speed, sense range, and swings per second, and whether they will swing out, or Regia too fast to swing out.
I believe a lot of people either don't care — they just want to have fun and "Keel" or they really haven't observed monsters in their natural setting long enough to know when which beast is going to do what. Below is a general overview of different types of movement, timing, speed and sensory range of a majority of the creatures one will encounter in the Lok'groton island chain, the planes and other places an exile may go.
It is up to you if you decide to use this information to better yourself as a fighter, or to just have more fun. If you want to find out about particular creatures, Du Lac's Bestiary is the best resource currently available. Creature movement names in the Bestiary are not standardized with the labels here. Org has agreed to work with the CLUMP in adding and standardizing those recently.
How to Learn Creature Movement Patterns
Many creatures move in relation to the nearest exile. Because of this habit, when you are learning how creatures move, standing still* and watching a creature's movement in the quickest way to learn their pattern and timing if it is anything beyond basic charging at the nearest exile. *The exception is creatures that throw rocks, webs or other projectiles.
Monster Movement is probably the easiest to learn, but for some reason, some people don't seem to have mastered it (nor even to have recognized it). Walk into any snell populated with monsters, and one of 7 things will happen: The monster will charge you, circle you, run away from you, throw something at you (a bolt of lightning, ball of fire, web, pebble, or small rock), zap you and/or teleport, be completely oblivious to you, or only go after one person, ignoring others. It's important to learn the movement of each particular type of creature, because you can learn to use their habits against them, either to trap them in a killing circle or hang them up on terrain to put more distance between yourself and them or even intercept them if they are chasing an injured party member. Here's the breakdown of monster activity.
Chargers are the most common types of creatures. They charge at anything that can sense your presence. They won't stop until either you're dead or they're dead. This is a simple and very stupid movement pattern that's incredibly easy to fool into running itself behind a tree, or leading right into a collapsing venus fly trap of fighters.
This is pretty much the equivalent of a stupid newbie charging a Zerk, waving his club and swinging until he's dead. Unfortunately, some chargers are all business, and they're best left to the professionals — until you become one, or learn to handle them.
Most Chargers will go after the closest person, but chargers that lock onto one person are becoming more common, these are one type of Targeter.
Be aware that a Charger is not always waving a flag showing "hey, I am a Charger". You can easily see that on the movements of Cave Cobras which have an insane "Area of Interest" and find you immediately, before you can see them in your game window. On the other hand Baltoises have a very short Area of Interest and are also pretty slow when charging and might lose their focus if one moves far enough away or someone else steps closer to them than you are.
Circlers are the second most common. These creatures, people have dubbed the Feral AI because initially only ferals circled their prey. You walk into the snell and the feral (or other creature) might look like it's running right at you, but before it gets to you — if you're far enough away — it decides to break off its attack and circle you for a bit. Usually once or twice or until it thinks its balance is full, then it charges you, swings a few times, then backs out and circles you again. When faced with multiple targets the feral will place the radius of its circling on the closest person to it, and it'll weave back and forth until it decides to charge again.
A basic way to protect yourself is to quickly observe where it is in that pattern, and simply run in a vector that makes it break off into a circling motion before it reaches you. This is also effective to keep them away from healers and wounded members in your party. Instead you follow it around the party, always keeping yourself the closest person to it. That way, when it charges, it'll attack you and not that unobservant newbie being raised or the healer who's turning yellow raising him because Mr. Newbie hasn't learned /share yet either.
These are the only monsters that don't use distance to nearest exile to pick their target. They tend to choose someone in range at random and chase them until they lose interest or another exile steps in their way long enough to get the monster's attention. If you are being chased by one, and you might fall if it hits you again — or you just don't want to be picked on, circle it around into a bricking fighter or rodding healer by moving to put the fighter or healer in between you and Mr. One Track Mind. If you decide to run for it without doing this, you'll eventually end up like many a teenager in one of those slasher films.
Large Death Vermine
Large Death Vermine are one type of targeter that run faster than exiles. They usually lock onto wounded or weak exiles. If one locks onto you and you can't kill it fast enough, do not run away from your party. Instead, run around the closest fighter to scrape it off and make the fighter kill it.
These are trool'kin that are harder to drop onto other exiles. They don't change their target simply by running past another exile. Instead, you must run to the exile, and touch the exile while slowly circling around the exile. You must go about halfway behind the exile you want to drop the Trool'kin keeping the exile between you and it. You must then wait until the Trool'kin strikes the exile or the exile strikes it in order to stop it from targeting you. Other high level targeters exhibit the same behavior when trying to drop them onto a brick.
And I don't mean 6 foot tall cloak wearing, "Bawking" Super chickens either — untamed, those can be the fiercest beasts in all the planes! I'm talking about creatures such as starbucks, that run away from you if you're anywhere within range of seeing them, until you force them to within 2 exile widths away and then they decide that since they've been forced into a corner, they might as well fight. There are no known creatures using this movement pattern that are very deadly to anyone but very low to early mid level exiles or mystics. The most dangerous class of known creatures who act like chickens are oddly enough most bears.
Occasionally you'll find a bear that is a charger, and usually these are tougher than most bears of the same type.
There's only one known teleporting race of wild beings in the lands that we know of. These are spriggins. You run at them and right when you get about an exile length away they teleport 180 degrees to the other side of the line that you and he made up the point of. They also zap your balance and occasionally steal huge sums of money.
They're are three ways to defeat them.
You or a friend run at the spriggin forming a straight line between you, the spriggin and your friend. The person who charges the spriggin is called the pitcher, and the person standing at the end or the 180° line is the batter. The batter stands just close enough to the spriggin to see them. When the charger approaches the spriggin, the spriggin teleports right into arms reach of the batter and the batter hits a HOME RUN (using the spriggin's head), and that little thief is outta the park!
Solo: you run at the spriggin full speed, just before you get hit the spot where he teleports you change directions 180 degrees. If you're fast enough and you did it right you'll be closer to him be the time he tries to teleport away, if he does start to teleport away, turn around and run 180 degrees the other way. You'll notice that he's getting tired of teleporting and is actually teleporting lesser and lesser distances, until his teleport is so close to you that when you turn around he can't teleport out in time, and bam! The little devil bites it hard. A fighter who is extremely good at hunting spriggins (and has low latency) can often kill the spriggin within one or two teleports.
The third method is easy to learn if you are observant, and it's so easy to execute, I feel it'd be a too much of a spoiler, and will not include it in this manual. You can however ask Noivad in-game if you really want to know.
"So you're an exile? big deal I got more important things to do!" would be the motto of the oblivious beasts of the field. These are pretty much harmless unless you try something like cornering them and getting right in their face. Like the chickens, they pose virtually no threat. It is rumored that killing Tors and Butterflies (two creatures that act oblivious to exiles) does nasty things to your luck and karma.
Bolters target the person nearest to them and hurl a lightning bolt at the person. They like to stand very far away, and most, like the orga warlock and hemlock are stationary until attacked. Then they run a little bit, stop and throw another bolt. These types are very easy to kill if you can get close enough. If you're low level or don't have much histia, the best practice is to follow behind a rod or tank so they take the damage, while you wait until the last second to pop out from behind the rod or tank and attack.
Others, like the dredlock, lock on to an exile like a Targeter and flay anything in their path to them. Deal with them as you do a targeter. Their bolts are more powerful than the other 'locks bolts. So be cautious when you first encounter dredlocks or their bigger brothers.
Hemlocks are noteworthy because their bolts bounce from one exile to the next if the exiles are standing close enough to each other. To deal with these, you charge it as usual, but make sure to get over 2 exile lengths distance between you and the closest person if you're up front. If you're behind and too close, drop back once you see a bounce. If you see a bolt bounce off of yourself, get away from others. When you have the hemlock surrounded. make sure to stand away from the person the hemlock is facing. The bolt will still bounce among the surrounding fighters, but you won't take any additional damage if you're lucky. If there are only 2 fighters on the hemlock, you and a friend, make sure to stand on opposites sides of the hemlock so the bolt can't bounce. If someone is standing really close to another person and they get bolted, the bolt has a good chance of bouncing back and forth, causing a greater deal of damage than should be taken. The same thing happens with dredlock bolts.
Webbers, like Crimson and Emerald Arachnoids, throw webs at exiles over far distances. When the webs hit the ground, they cover an area 3 exiles in diameter, making the ground very sticky and hard to move through. The best defense is to keep moving when around them. Webbers target weaker people, so it's possible for a rod to injure itself and draw the webs to it. If you are injured, you could draw a web upon yourself, so it's important to do three things:
- Don't stand near fallens* — if webs hit them, it will make them more fallen, and harder to raise
- Do not stand in an important place (like at the exit**, in the combat zone nor the path to get out of the area if you need to retreat)
- Try to stand far enough back*** so that the noids choose the rod over you as a target
*If you are chained with multiple people and healed to standing and the fallen are right next to you in a web area, immediately upon being raised, move as fast as you can away from the fallen. Getting someone webbed while fallen could make them too dead for the healers, and then they would have to be chained or depart and for the rest of the hunt you're down one or two people. It can also end the hunt because the person has to be taken back to town to be raised.
**by standing near the exit, you are encouraging the noids to web that area, trapping people in or hindering them long enough so that they fall.
*** you're already injured and taxing the healers resources. The faster they can heal everyone up the sooner you can get back to fighting and progressing in your area.
The Mammoth Recluse Arachne and the Black Widow also throw webs, but of an entirely different type. This second variety of web is unavoidable (like Orga lightning) and will quickly pull the targeted exile directly toward the widow or recluse, causing the exile to swing out on any creatures in the way. These webs do not directly damage exiles.
Most monsters move at the exact same speed as exiles, but a few, such as Mahas, Cave Cobras and Stinging Beetles, can overtake an exile running away, and turn that planned escape into a lecture from your tailor about blood and grass stains on your clothes. Some move a lot slower than exiles, and these are much more easily managed. The various creature movement speeds is one of the things that all but the most unwashed newbie knows intrinsically, and knowing their speed comes in handy when you have to retreat.
Swinging on Creatures
Learning to time your swings, and where to swing, is essential to hit difficult-to-hit monsters and not take any more damage than necessary.
The basic instruction pages all tell you to swing just after the monster swings since this is when the monster is at its lowest balance. It's good practice to also know what your maximum sustainable swing rate is and use it to establish a rhythm. Many people experience lag and can't time their swings by just watching. In this case it's best to listen for the sound, and time the interval between swings. If you aren't hitting a beast in one rhythm, try an alternate rhythm.
If you're with a group where you can't hit what they're hunting, try the backside. If you still can't hit, keep trying if it is a casual hunting situation. Don't stop to say you can't hit. If you want to give up, you just say, "Kill," and the other fighters will take care of it.
In a heavy battle situation where there are many more fighters than there are spaces to attack, and a stronger fighter is cued behind you, if you have only a chance to hit with a lucky hit, then move on to something more your level, to allow a stronger fighter in. He or she won't get any experience for slaughtering something that is a kill for you, while you won't get any experience for whiffing out on a monster too tough for you to hit.
Here are a few things to learn for each monster:
Swings Per Second
Some beasts swing very slowly, like Baltoise, and a few swing several times a second, like GCP and giant foxweir. Generally, the larger something is, the slower it swings, and vice versa. Most monsters have a swing rate between one and three seconds, and getting down the timing of these creatures is easier.
Some monsters used to swing out, and exhaust all their balance and swing as soon as they had enough balance to swing. Now, such creatures are all but extinct because they were too easy to kill. Now only the ones smart enough not to swing out survive. It's best to learn from them, and not swing out unless you can safely do so.
Dealing with Creatures
There's only two ways to deal with creatures: either you avoid them, or you kill them. This section deals with both avoiding creatures by losing them and hunting them with extreme efficiency. As mentioned previously, once you know a creature's movement, speed, sensory range and swing rate, you'll be more adept at hunting them and surviving them hunting you.
Losing creatures that are chasing you is a basic stunt, anyone can pull off. The easiest way is to cross a snell (and even recross it), or better yet, go through a path. But if you're a long way from the snell border and they're catching up to you, buy some space and read Terrain in the Survival section. Note that the better you know the pattern the monsters move in, their speed and swing speed, the easier it will be to trick them into bumping into things, and making them lose track of you.
Sensory Range of Creatures
Along with movement type, comes monster sensory range. Many creatures can see just as far as an exile can, and by the time you're aware of them it's too late to choose a path that goes around them. Many can see, hear or smell further than exiles can, and are already moving towards an exile long before the exile is aware of them. Taller monsters, and those with enhanced senses of smell or hearing, can detect exiles extremely far. Learning sensory range is important in deciding how far you should run if you have to retreat. If a beast can see all the way across a snell and they can cross borders in pursuit of you, it's a good idea to retreat two snells if you or your party is critically injured. If you just need a few seconds to regroup and quickly heal up, you might just get away with retreating to the edge of the same snell or just over the boundary into the next snell.
(AKA "Running" Creatures) Since, aside from kudzu, we don't have a convenient way to keep a horde of beasties from surrounding us and using our innards as punching bags, chew toys, or clawing posts, often we have to corral them like a cowboy would. Since you don't have a fence or even a lasso — you become the lasso.
You circle the large group, trying to keep the faster ones behind the slower ones, and keep then penned up by chasing you as you run in a circle around them. This works extremely well with chargers, but is much harder to do with circlers — but it is possible. You can even hunt solo by corralling too, and it's similar to the Monster Terrain subsection, but this is all monsters, bumping into each other, and you pick off the ones at the edges using hit and run tactics known as the fighting retreat. The problem is since they're in a circle, most likely 2 or 3 will be about to take a pot shot at you as you go in to hit one. Monster Terrain solves this one problem.
So, corralling is best practiced in a small groups, even though this is a solo section, mastering this art of leading beast into a circle will become vital to both healers and fighters alike in later stages of their advancement. With corralling comes the next related topic: Peeling Monsters.
Peeling monsters is one way to rescue someone you come upon completely surrounded. And as you probably know by now, surrounded fighters are much closer to death than free moving fighters. If you are a fighter, and you can't take them all on at once because you'll get surrounded too, learn to peel. So, once you've learned the range a beast will go for you, you step just a bit closer than the person it is currently trying to get to and, viola! it is now chasing you. If you've studied hard at noticed beasts range you'll notice some only see you half your visible area away, and some see you from the other side of the snell.
However, all but a few monsters target the closest person to them. You can peel off a few from your surrounded new friend, kill them and come back for more. If it looks like he's going to fall, call in some back up and a healer while you're at it — you did remember to get a sunstone the first few weeks you played didn't you?
Later on one person in your group might be corralling or "leading" them, and you, with your expert peeling skills can yelling "Peeling." He'll yell back his location and maybe a beast count and type, and you carefully approach and pick up the stragglers in the back closest to you and furthest from him. A more advanced technique is to run parallel to the runner, and peel from the side, so you can both make sure you peel the right amount to lead back to your group.
Peeling is an easy concept, but mastery of it depends on both the person corralling them, and the peeler. Even the most experienced peelers and corrallers occasionally have miscommunications or unexpected problems.
Soloing prey tougher than you are is a skill that really tests your limits. You'll usually want to use the hit and run approach, assuming you can hit it once and run away before it can land one or two blows on you. If it's really tough, ask a healer to standby in another snell so you can practice. If the beast troiluses slowly, you could conceivably leave the snell, troil and come back to it when at full health.
Until you get decent at this, I suggest sharing with your local locating mystic regularly (they increase your luck, it is rumored) — you'll want them as friends anytime you're fallen alone — and letting people know where you're at via SS or in town center before you leave helps as well.
And while you're soloing, get the most out of it by filling your share slots with healers, and good friends.
Remember those car chases in every action movie since the French Connection? Remember how the guy running from whomever was chasing him lost his pursuers? They used their knowledge of navigating and using obstacles to get pursuers off their tail. You can do the same to just about every beast in the game, even those faster than you.
Practice running away from a heard of beasts you've been corralling and dodging behind a tree to trip some of them up and give you a little more room. Also, notice that fat, slow beast in the back? Why not swing around the pack and make him the leader? All the other beasts will have to slow down a bit and have to move around him, buying you maybe enough time to dodge around another tree, and further your lead, and maybe even shake a few off your tail. The better you get the closer you'll be able to cut around trees and boulders and beasts coming at you. You might even rush by one close enough to let it swing at you while not stopping, and then watch as the other beasts pile up behind it. (Running by a creature to make it intentionally swing at you and halt it in its tracks is known as a feint. You can use feints later in groups hunts to precisely place a monster in a killing zone for a surround and pound if you are the one luring.)
Before I mentioned leading beasts in a circle to manage them, but in order to pick one off you need to be able to separate them momentarily. Lead beasts into a straight line. Turn back quickly, hit the one in the front of the pack, and run off in the direction that keeps everyone behind the one you hit — he's at a standstill, since he swung too and you can easily retake your lead. The down side is the others might pass him, and you'll have to swing back and corral them in order to get the one you hit at the front again. The upside is that the entire group only one got to swing on you.
Where to Practice Monster Terrain Leading Techniques
You can start learning how to use terrain and other monsters in the Undine cavern, then move to Wendeckas, and move on to South Forest, then eventually to Northwest Forest at night. See Where to Practice for more places to practice dealing with creatures.