The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep Basic Starting Guide.
Each adventurer can equip up to five abilities to be used in combat. Which abilities your adventurer has equipped can be set in your character sheet and your mastery book. Abilities are gained from your character’s archetype and the associated Skill Tree, and can also be found on some special items, such as potions or magic weapons. Equipped abilities are displayed in the center of your Party Grid. Below are the common Abilities and their unique tooltip color:
- Purple: Mental
- Orange: Physical
- Green: Healing
- Blue: Defense
- Gray: Utility
In addition to the Ability title and a short description, the Ability tooltips contain information on any Spell Point or Opportunity cost, as well as any cooldown duration.
Party and Companions
As you venture forth, you will encounter quite a few adventurers like yourself – a perk of being in the Adventurer’s Guild! Your party starts with a set number of slots, but this number increases as the game progresses. Any character you do not take in your active party will return to the Adventurer’s Guild. This way, you can always rearrange the party as you see fit. Speaking to any character who can join your party will open the Party Menu automatically.
Another option, outside of the characters you will encounter along your journey, is to create mercenaries to round out your active party members. Purchased from the Mercenary Vendor in the Adventurer’s Guild, these mercenaries are always available provided you have obtained a Mercenary Token on your adventure.
In Character Creation, you will begin with 3 Skill Points. Each time your adventurers level up they earn a Skill Point. Spend your Skill Points in your Skill Tree to grow in power, learn new Abilities, and train to use new gear.
The Skill Trees are broken into three tiers. To unlock the second and third tiers of Skills you must spend 8 and 16 Skill Points respectively. The first time you unlock a tier, you’ll have to travel to the Adventurer’s Guild to be judged worthy of advancement by The Review Board.
Combat in The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep takes place on a 4×4 grid, with your party standing on one side and the enemy standing on the other. Gameplay is turn-based, with your side and then the enemy trading off turns with each other. The total amount of moves you can make is determined by how much Opportunity you have.
First Strike is displayed when you engage the enemy, giving your party the first attack. When approaching the enemy, your cursor will change from the standard arrow to Charge. Using Charge allows you to close distance and get that first attack.
If the enemy sees you first, Spotted will be displayed before combat, and the enemy team will have the first attack.
Attacks, Items & Abilities
In order to attack, use an equipped item, move, or activate any other ability simply: Select the character you want to use, press their Ability button, and then select your target. Who an Ability will hit depends entirely on where your adventurer stands on the battlefield and the targeting pattern of the Ability they’re using. Keep an eye on the damage previews provided so you don’t attack the wrong target. That’s embarrassing.
Some items and Abilities can be used at any time out of combat. Abilities that do not grey out during exploration can be used at any time out of combat from the Ability Bar. Items like food and torches may be selected from the Inventory.
Enemies and adventurers Focus when preparing powerful Abilities or while they’re in powerful combat stances.
To execute a Channeled Ability a combatant must Focus for one or more turns. You can stop an enemy from Focusing by dealing Mental Damage. When the Focus meter is completely drained the Ability or stance is canceled. If a channeled Ability is not broken in time, it’ll execute automatically at the start of the turn. Abilities that deal mental damage are often purple and will glow while an enemy is Focusing.
Spell points can be generated by using Abilities like Chug or Meditate. Practitioners also passively generate Spell Points. These can be used to fuel magic spells and bardic songs that can’t be activated using Opportunity. Spells are easy to spot because of the spell gems on their Ability icon.
When a party member’s Health reaches zero and they are incapacitated, their portrait will be greyed out and unavailable. You cannot use or select the party member in this state. If you win the fight, any unconscious party members will stand back up with a quarter of their maximum Health restored.
If you’ve used all your Opportunity and have no Spell Points to spend, press the End Turn button to let the enemy’s turn proceed. When their turn ends, you regain your Opportunity, Ability cooldowns progress, and any channeled Ability from the previous round will activate, starting your next turn.
Your adventurer’s maximum health points.
Affects the amount of damage done by most attacks.
Every point of armor negates one point of incoming physical damage. Mental Damage and True Damage ignore armor.
Determines your Focus while channeling or using stances. This will also make some spells more powerful and dictate how well you can hold your liquor.
Combat in The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep is turn-based. Starting out, you have three Opportunity, displayed as gems, to spend each turn. You will gain more as you progress. Your adventurers have Abilities that cost Opportunity to activate. Activate Abilities until you’re out of Opportunity before ending your turn. Unlike the other stats, Opportunity is a resource shared by your entire party.
Abilities that use Spell Points display Spell Point Gem icons directly on their Ability icon. The number of gems indicates the number of Spell Points they require to cast. The gems are either lit or unlit, based on how many Spell Points the character currently possesses. If the character lacks the Spell Points needed to cast the spell, the Ability icon is greyed out.
Unlike Opportunity, Spell Points are not a shared resource across your team. Spell Points are generated and stored on the individual character. Generate Spell Points by drinking Elixirs of Focus, meditating, or getting drunk. Some passives also generate Spell Points. Abilities that use Spell Points do not use Opportunity.
Knowing where you’re trying to go is important. Active quests will produce Waypoints in the world for you to follow to help reach your objectives. Simply run over the Waypoint to cause the next one to appear.
Luck Stones are artifacts placed around the world of Caith. When you approach and interact with them, they will allow you to save your game. If you fall in battle or quit and come back, you will reappear at the last Luck Stone you visited.
Ancient Luck Stones are a special type of Luck Stone. Unlike their regular golden cousins, you may choose to save your game here or, if you’re daring, you can instead consume the Luck Stone’s magic; destroying the stone but gaining Experience for your entire party. Choose wisely.
The world of Caith is dotted with ancient Standing Stones which allow adventurers to travel great distances. Those who possess a special Song of Exploration ability, the Wildland Whistle, may use it while standing in the center of the ring to activate them.
Upon activation, your Map Screen will appear and show all of the Standing Stones you have previously discovered. Selecting one will allow you to fast travel to that location.
Each character you control is an adventurer.
Adventurers have 5 core stats: Strength, Constitution, Armor, Intelligence, and Spell Points.
This refers to all the adventurers under your control collectively.
This refers to the User Interface element at the bottom of your screen that has all your adventurers on it.
Items are found in the Inventory. They can sometimes be equipped, used, inspected, bought, and sold.
Abilities are actions you can take in combat. Melee attacks, magic spells, and even using potions are all Abilities. Key Ability types:
- Arcane – This Ability’s damage is determined by Intelligence rather than Strength.
- Battle Ready – This Ability starts off cooldown in combat.
- Channel – The combatant will become inactive for the number of turns listed while preparing the Ability, rendering them incapable of acting. Can be ended prematurely by Mental damage.
- Drunk – When your Bard reaches this number of Drunken stacks, they unlock their songs’ secondary effects.
- Stance – A channeled Ability that allows the combatant to keep acting.
Each adventurer has their own Skill Tree based on their archetype. The Skill Tree is populated with Skills that can be bought for one Skill Point each. Each time an adventurer levels up, they earn one Skill Point.
Skills are purchased within the Skill Tree to improve your character. Skills can grant stats, passives, crafting recipes, and Abilities.
Passives are properties of an adventurer that are always in effect. Many passives have trigger conditions under which they’ll activate.
Status Effects are bonuses or penalties that have a limited duration. For example, being poisoned is a status effect which only lasts for a few turns.
Boons are special passives that are granted by correctly solving elven puzzle weapons. There are special enhancements to the puzzle weapon that will grant your adventurer extra Abilities to aid in combat.
Luck Stones are magical pillars where you can save your game and restore your party’s health. They come in two varieties, Gold and Ancient. Gold Luck Stones can be saved at as often as you like. You can choose to bind an Ancient Luck Stone to turn it into a regular golden Luck Stone, or consume it for bonus Experience Points. If you consume it then it is removed for the rest of the game.
Standing Stones are massive stonehenge-like circles of ancient carved rock. You can activate them by singing the Wildland Whistle. Once you have two or more unlocked, you can use the Wildland Whistle to open up the fast travel menu and warp between them. We call this the High Road.
Standing Stone of Gratitude
Standing Stones of Gratitude are ancient monuments to great heroes of Skara Brae. Interact with them to gain bonus experience.
Merchants are characters who you can buy and sell items with. Review Board The Review Board is located on the bottom floor of the Adventurer’s Guild. Whenever you have spent 8 Skill Points in a skill tier, you may return to the Review Board to unlock your next tier.
Main Hand weapons come in a two categories: One-Handed and Two-Handed. Two-Handed weapons will take both the Main Hand and Off-Hand weapon slots.
Off-Hand items/weapons are usually control or support items which can be used round out or supplement certain adventurers’ Abilities. Anything from Shields to Instruments can go here. Depending on how you have built your party, certain classes will allow you to hold some weapons in your off-hand as well.
Elven Puzzle Weapons
The elves’ fascination with nature, craft, and enchantment finds its ultimate expression in their puzzle weapons. Originally designed so that no one but the owner could unlock their full powers, these unique weapons consist of three parts: The Pommel (Seed), The Grip (Roots), and The Hilt or Collar (Leaves)
Each part of the weapon must be solved in sequence, beginning with the Pommel, and unlocks a boon upon completion as well as allowing you to advance to the next section. Boons are permanent upgrades to the weapon. Each unlocked boon is stronger than the last, giving the weapon wild new properties.
Armor will absorb incoming physical damage, reducing the damage received in a flat exchange. If you have 3 Armor and are hit with 5 damage, you will lose 2 health. Present in all the familiar forms, medium and heavy armor will provide you with that extra damage mitigation which can make or break your combat encounter.
Defensive Abilities are just that, they defend. Found in archetype’s Skill Trees (such as the Fighter’s Deflect or the Bard’s Sanctuary Score) and through Trinket items (like the Deployable Barricade). These Abilities can be used to mitigate incoming damage. Always handy in a pinch.
Physical attacks hit Health directly, except what is blocked by Armor. Physical Attacks will ignore Focus, so they will not break a channel… unless you kill ‘em first.
The only type of damage that can break Focus while a target is channeling. Any damage that remains after the Focus is broken, is counted against Health. If a Mental Damage attack is used against a nonchanneling target, the damage hits Health. Mental Damage ignores Armor.
Usually encountered though status effects such as Bleed and Poison, True Damage ignores Armor and cannot be negated in any way.
Bards use Spell Points to sing songs so grand they imbue the listener with their mystic properties. Bards provide powerful buffs and debuffs, and can be serviceable combatants in a pinch. Bards gain their power through good humor and a wet whistle, meaning they gain Spell Points and bonuses by drinking on the job.
Starting Ability: Sanctuary Score
Sing a protective song that shields allies from harm.
Practitioners are master manipulators of magic. They generate Spell Points and use them to unleash powerful spells. Practitioners can summon fearsome monsters or assault crowds of enemies with gouts of fire, bolts of lightning, and psychic maelstroms. Among practitioners, there are several established disciplines: Conjurors, Magicians, Sorcerers, Wizards, and the legendary Archmages.
Starting Ability: Arcane Barrage
Fire a bolt of raw arcane energy that rends the soul of of its victim
Fighters may be brutish berserkers who fling themselves headlong in the battle and use raw power to carry them through the fight, or more tactical fighters who can duel with an opponent and come out unscathed. Either way, fighters belong at the front of your group, trading blows with enemies and protecting your more fragile characters while conversely being supported by those they protect.
Starting Ability: Taunt
Insult an enemy and invoke his ire, causing that enemy to charge the fighter, ignoring the rest of your party.
Rogues excel at deception, misdirection, and finding the perfect opportunity to circumvent defenses and land devastating killing blows on key targets. Rogues also have the ability to conceal your party, making it easier to avoid or ambush enemies.
Starting Ability: Hide in Shadows
Slip away into the shadows, making it impossible for enemies to target you with direct attacks. Attacks launched from the shadows deal bonus damage but reveal your position.
Race / Culture
You may play as any of the seven proud cultures that populate Caith. Each culture carries with it a powerful passive trait that can define your character.
Baed – Human
Occupying the southern lowlands, the Baed are the most “civilized” of Caith’s people. They are a stocky, ruddy race of farmers and craft-folk who live in small towns and stone-walled towns ruled by hereditary lords. Until recently, the Beads worshipped the traditional gods of Caith, simple deities of harvest, hearth, and hedgerow, but the growing influence of the Fatherites has pushed the old cults underground.
Passive: Baedish Studies
The Baed people are well-educated and clever. Gains 1 bonus Skill Point at level 3, 10, and 18.
Einarr – Human
Descending from the raiding peoples beyond the north sea, the Einarr live on the east coast of Caith, and the many islands that dot the sea beyond it. They are the tallest, fairest, and most sea-loving of all the people of Caith. Geographically separated from the Baed, they continue to worship the gods of their northern ancestors.
Passive: Einarr Temper
These tall and powerful people have a legendary ability to hold a grudge. Each time they’re struck in combat, they gain +1 Strength for the remainder of the fight.
Fichti – Human
The most secretive of Caith’s people, the Fichti live in the northwestern forests and survive mostly by hunting and gathering. They are small and dark-haired nature worshipers who are organized into matriarchal tribes and clans.
Passive: Fichti Watch
The Fichti are fiercely protective of their friends and family and will give their life for them if need be. Once per battle, a Fichti will absorb damage from an ally that would otherwise kill them.
Outlander – Human
Many races and peoples come over the sea to Caith – mercenaries from Ambardy, traders from Lestras and Attia, scholars from far Barabi. Some stay and settle. Others become adventurers. They all share the common struggle of being strangers in a strange land.
Passive: Outlander’s Resilience
Outlanders may come from a variety of cultures, but they all share one trait. The trials they faced in coming to Skara Brae have made them hardy and unflappable. They’re immune to poison, fire, and bleeding.
Dwarves come from the realm of Kinestia, where they live in vast underground holds. They are an insular race, but some find the hold life dull and claustrophobic, and so venture to the world of men, where their skills in metalwork and stonework are in high demand.
Passive: Dwarven Stubbornness
Dwarves are a stubborn and sturdy people who are almost supernaturally tenacious. Dwarves cannot be stunned, rooted, or forcibly moved.
The elves live in the realm of Arboria, a place of endless forests and abundant magic than can only be reached by magic portal, and generally they stay there, engaging in internecine intrigues and ignoring the human realm entirely. Some, however, care deeply for humankind, and leave their own land behind to help and protect their younger cousins.
Passive: Elven Wisdom
Elves are a well-educated race with innate magical abilities. Elves have +30% Intelligence and +1 maximum Spell Points.
Short, scrappy, and mischievous, trow are both loved and feared by the people of Caith. The old tales say a Trow around the house is good luck. The Fatherites, however, say they are dirty thieves who will sicken babies in their cribs. Really, they’re just ordinary folk, trying to get along as best they can – which sometimes means taking advantage of human generosity.
Passive: Trow’s Advantage
Ever the opportunists, the party gains one Opportunity when a Trow adventurer lands a killing blow. This may happen only once per turn.
“In mist-shrouded Skara Brae, in the darkest hours of the night, sometimes can be heard a voice on the wind. The Song of the Maiden the locals call it – a song sung since before the standing stones grew moss, a song of ill fortune that lures those who hear it to their doom and drives the melancholy to madness, a song, they say, that must never end, for if it does, the world ends with it.”
The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep takes place in Caith, a land of rolling hills and ancient standing stones, of deep woods and living gods, and of windswept islands and dark secrets. You start your adventure in Skara Brae, a bustling seaport, and from there travel to the Baedish lowlands, the Forest of Inshriach, and the Stennish Isles. There will be villains to fight, companions to meet, traps to avoid, puzzles to solve, songs to sing, lore to learn, weapons of great power to discover, and of course, a story to be told.
Dark days have returned to Skara Brae. The Temple of the Swordfather threatens the Adventurer’s Guild, blaming it for the malevolent magics and monsters that terrorize the populace. If you ever want to live in peace again, you, as an adventurer in good standing, must discover the true culprits behind these attacks, and learn why your beloved city is once again the center of a maelstrom of evil.
More of this sort of thing:
- The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep – Important Stats and Exploration
- The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep – Skill Trees and Combat Guide
- The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep – Glossary and Weapons
- The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep – Tips and Tricks
- The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep – Abilities, Party and Companions