Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura Wiki



  1. If you want to have an easier time with the game, switch to Turn Based (or Fast Turn Based) combat. Real Time combat is only useful if your character is extremely strong or if you have a lot of party members.
  2. When making a character, stick to tech or magic, don't try to mix them. The manual tells us that if a character has a high technical aptitude, then any spells or magical items used by that character will be considerably less powerful and much more prone to critical failures. The same is true of the converse (magical character using tech items).
  3. If you'd like to add an extra layer of customization to your character, try to make a custom portrait. More information can be found HERE.
  4. Dexterity is generally the most useful stat in the game for any combat-oriented character. It improves your armor rating, making you harder to hit. It improves your speed, giving you more actions in combat and your character will run faster. A high dexterity is also necessary to learn a lot of useful skills. But be careful not to waste all your level points into the stat as there is a lot of equipment in the game that increase your dexterity for free.
  5. The easiest and most recommended build for a first playthrough is an Half-Orc / Half-Ogre melee character that has 20 Strength, 20 Dexterity, Master Melee and Master Dodge. Depending on your starting background, your character becomes extremely strong already at around level 15-20. That means you have another 30 levels worth of stat points you can put in anywhere you want (Thieving Skills or Persuasion/Charisma skills or Magical skills or Technological skills).
  6. Magical characters are generally easier for beginners to the game. You should only choose to play a technological character after your first playthrough simply because it is much harder to play.
  7. If you have at least 9 Charisma, you can get an ogre from the Inn at Shrouded Hills to join your party. He becomes very strong if you give him a strong melee weapon and some gear that boost his Dexterity.
  8. There is another powerful sidekick available at Ashbury when you first enter the city. Keep following the city streets to the right until you hear/see a small guy kicking a dog. Order him to stop by either threatening or paying him and you will get the Worthless Mutt, which is a dog that becomes extremely strong if you level him up. The extra bonus is that you don't need an additional follower slot for him.
  9. If you have followers, consider giving them Scrolls of Resurrection (if you and the receiving follower are magickally inclined) or Life Restorers (if you and the receiving follower are technologically inclined). If you die but your followers survive, they will — in most cases — use these items on you and bring you back to life.


There are many ways to make money in Arcanum. A couple of methods are listed below.

  • Easy Early Game Money: Certain gold stashes can be acquired very early, requiring zero fighting and modicum of effort. Two notable examples are the Willoughsby house chest in Tarant and Razors Pointe chest. While the latter can be acquired without complications (watch our for powerful Random Encounters however), the former chest is a little tricky as it's guarded by the Half-Ogre servant. To circumvent this, break in through the window and break the chest, the gold will be yours and no one will notice.
  • Complete quests: Most quests will offer a monetary reward upon completion. If your Haggle skill is high enough, do not hesitate to ask for a higher reward!
  • Sell items: Pick up what you can from dungeons, slain enemies, chests, or even garbage bins, then sell all that stuff for some gold. The Haggle skill will help greatly, as well as having a favorable reaction from the shopkeeper you are selling to (affected by Beauty and a few other factors). Increase your reaction through spells such as Charm, Purity of Water, or wear items such as the Smoking Jacket (+20 to almost any reaction).
  • Craft technological items for profit: Some technological items sell for much more than the value of their crafting materials while others are quite the opposite. Remember that you can restock a shopkeeper's inventory if you move your screen fully away from them and advance time by one day (hotkey [S]). With patience, effort, and a bit of planning, you can get any amount of gold this way.
    • Examples of valuable tech items include: Eye Gear (invest 4 tiers into Mechanical or get Magnus to craft it), Flow Specktrometer (invest 3 tiers into Electrical or get Sebastian to craft it), Explosive Grenade (invest 5 tiers into Explosives).
    • Early on you can craft and sell Healing Salves or Fatigue Restorers for a reasonable profit in gold. The schematics for these items are given when investing 1 or 2 points into Herbology, respectively, or you can alternatively get Jayna Stiles to craft them. Vormantown's Priscilla Penn is also able to craft them, assuming you are playing that campaign. Herbs can be bought from herbalists located in almost all villages, towns, and cities, or can be obtained while traveling on the world map in woodland areas, occasionally stopping to look for them.
  • Rob stores: Apart from a stock of valuable items in their shops, shopkeepers will often have a plenty of gold you can pickpocket or simply take after killing them. A shopkeeper's amount of gold will increase every day if you enter the trading screen with them, even if you don't buy anything. If you've visited a particular shopkeeper often during a playthrough, they will most likely have tens of thousands of gold in their inventory. Be careful not to get in a bigger fight you can handle if any guards spot you, or not to kill too many characters in a town (otherwise you may get a reputation that makes almost everyone from that town hostile).
  • Play the Game of Wits: Bar patrons will sometimes offer 500 gold to you if you can correctly answer a question. If you answer wrong, they will take 500 gold from you instead. Watch out not to talk to the wrong person, or you may find yourself in combat, and consider saving and reloading if you don't get an offer to play.
  • Use glitches: There are a few bugs and glitches that can be used to easily obtain any amount of gold.

Thieving for Non-Thieves[]

The most efficient thieves min/max their thieving stats and skills. However, this does not mean that non-thieves cannot dabble around a bit! Generally you can even do so without spending any Character Points. The basic idea is that even a little bit of a skill can go a surprisingly long way. We'll be looking at Four aspects of thieving: Prowling, Locks, Pick Pocket, and Traps.

While not a thieving skill per se, Prowling facilitates defeating locks and picking pockets. This is because victims get a saving throw based on a perception check, and prowling makes that harder for the victim. Free Prowling is surprising easy to get, provided you have the perception to support it. Halflings get a natural +2/20. Magick Players can get up to +9/20 from items, while tech players still can get up to +5/20 from items. Blessings can give +4/20 a bit later in the game. Also there is +NP (noise protection) gear that can enhance prowling even more. Apprentice training can be had at 1/20 which is very powerful at any level.

On one hand, there is not a lot of bonuses to work with early in the game. Backgrounds can get up to +2/20, and neutral items +1/20 (oiled thieves leather armor), and magickal items another +1/20 (light-fingered gauntlets). Blessings can help, but those are mid to late game considerations. On the other hand even that tiny amount of Pick Pocket can get you a lot. Getting apprentice training at 1/20 is easy. And Pick Pocket becomes really viable when the mark is unaware due to sleeping and/or prowling. Even without prowl, 2/20 in Pick Pocket can get you critical items like keys, and keys are the gateway to bigger prizes like locked up loot and quests. You are basically looking for small, unequipped items.

Also there are ways to get NPCs to unequip items that you want by dropping something next to them that they will pick up and equip instead, moving the item that you want from their neck or finger and into their inventory. For instance "giving" them a Dorian Amulet or Fated Ring is a sure way to get easier access to their unique items.

  • Locks

For magick players, the Ashbury and Caladon magick shops sell Scrolls of Unlocking Cantrip. And that's its own topic.

Also for magick and other players, Virgil is your early game go to here. By level 5 (Shrouded Hills) his gets Level 1 Pick Locks. You can improve this by buying a set of lock picks (+5%) at the blimp store and giving them to him, and buying yourself a set of crude lock picks at Ristezze's Junk Shop. Virgil won't be able to open a lot of locks around the world, but he can open several of the non-shop keeper locks. This includes Doc Robert's storeroom, which contains one of the few early game capacitors (used for charged rings). Around level 15 he gets Pick Locks 2, and if you have Magnus then that's about the same time that Magnus can make the Auto Skeleton Key (+10%). Again play around, and you'll be surprised what he can open with that combo.

  • Traps

There is not really much to say here. The main take-away is if you are working the Electric discipline, then Flow Specktrometer is a free way to spot traps. Also if you have Magnus Shale Fist (or are working the Mechanical Discipline yourself) then Trap Springers are decent for disarming trapped containers (especially the fire traps). Also making and using Spike Traps can be a creative way for dealing with combat encounters that you can Plan Ahead Foror for Passive Kills.

Fate Points are a non-thief's best friend, especially early in the game. Not a lot of fate points are available early on, so use them jealously. Basically using a fate point gives you 100% success at Pick Pocket and Pick Locks (among other non-thieving uses). So save them to acquire rare and unique items that cannot be purchased, or that can be crafted by you or your followers.

  • Brute Force Approaches

And a final note should be made about Brute Force Approaches to thieving. While thieving should aesthetically be an art form using a surgeon's scalpel, sometimes using the barbarian's axe to loot a corpse or bash open a lock is the only way in certain situations. Stealthily placed Dynamite is a wonderful tool for this, and several free sticks can be found early in the game, It opens (destroys) any locked door or chest, and it can be use to make a passive kills. And marks killed passively can be resurrected after the thieving is done if desired, with no ill effects for either party.

  • Conclusion

Thieving is viable, even with no points invested in it. And it can come in really handy early in the game, when every item, coin, and quest makes a big difference. Also if you've never done a thief build before, it can give you a free taste of some of the things that it can do for you. And even if not a game changer, a little free thieving can add some spice to your game.

Weapon Spell Charges[]

  • Followers of any aptitude can use charged spells on weapons
  • This does not diminish the number of charges
  • This does not cost fatigue
  • The weapon does not even have to be equipped -- it merely has to be in their inventory
  • The downside is that they cast only in battle, and cannot cast on demand
  • Still, any follower can become a combat healer by giving them a Staff Of Healing to carry
  • Also giving a follower a Shocking Dagger gives them new or additional offensive spell capabilities


Alternative to Investing in Intelligence[]

If you have a technological character and enough money to spare, you may want to choose to purchase many Essence of Intellect potions from magickal traders and boost your Intelligence that way instead of spending character points. The Essence of Intellect will work regardless of your technological aptitude, giving you +10 Intelligence for a short period of time no matter what. Assuming you start with 8 Intelligence and you wish to learn the most complex of schematics (19 IN required for those), you will need to invest nothing but some money and time. A single Essence of Intellect combined with a Vivifier (+1 to all stats permanently, found in the Vendigroth Ruins) will give you +11 IN, enough for all your crafting needs. Be wary that you will need to drink one Essence both when you invest character points, and when you need to craft the related items. There are a total of 64 character points that you can acquire, so saving 11 of them is quite a big deal. You can enter Turn-Based Combat while you craft items or spend Character Points when an Essence of Intellect is in effect — this will allow you to do so without worrying about it expiring prematurely.

Quicker Self-Healing[]

Have you ever found yourself running from an enemy with no time to stop and freshen up with a Fatigue Restorer? Finding it hard to click on yourself in Turn-Based Combat while surrounded to use that much-needed Healing Salve — or worse, clicking on an enemy and healing it instead of yourself? Those days are over! Holding Shift before clicking on an item in your hotbar (or simply pressing keys 1 to 0 on your keyboard) will use the chosen item on you automatically. This also works with spells placed in your hotbar, clicked on in the Magick selection window, or in the Last Active Skill/Spell slots. Alternatively, you can right-click on consumable items in your inventory to use them on yourself.

Self-Resurrection with Fate Points[]

Whether this trick is legitimate or not is debatable, as it is rather unusual, and the Fate Point window cannot normally be opened while dead. Perhaps it would belong better under the Bugs and Glitches page. However it may be, one can resurrect themselves by having the Fate Point window open [hotkey F] before they die, then clicking the Full Heal option before the death slide appears. (Sometimes the FP window can be opened while already dead, but this appears to be inconsistent.)

Use Items while Incapacitated[]

This trick may also be considered a bug due to its unusual nature. In any case, as unintuitive as it may seem, one can heal themselves while Stunned or even Unconscious by right clicking on restorative items in their inventory. Accidentally running out of Fatigue as a low level mage has always caused some apprehension, but not so much when one can simply drink Morgana's Tears while Unconscious!

Indirect Kills[]

This one could also be considered a bug. One can call it "itemkill" or "itemkilling" for short. It is possible to kill NPCs without the kills counting in the logbook (useful if doing a zero kills playthrough) and without the affected NPCs becoming hostile to the player character while being injured. Because NPCs will automatically equip the strongest items in their inventory, it is possible to give them items that cause damage over time — such as the Baneful Gauntlets from the Isle of Despair or the Ring of Shadows from the Strange Pond — to indirectly kill them. This can be done in a couple of ways, most notably by leaving the item in question on the ground near them (so that they will pick it up) or by planting the item in their inventory through the Pick Pocket skill (with or without a Fate Point).

Once they equip the item, their health (and fatigue in some cases) will drain over time, usually through poison damage, eventually killing them. A few problems may occur:

  • If the NPC runs out of fatigue and the item stops affecting them, restore their fatigue.
  • If the item seems to stop damaging them after a while, simply wait a minute or two until it starts working again. Saving and loading MIGHT also help.
  • If the NPC becomes invisible due to the effect of the Ring of Shadows, have some means of taking the ring back from them once dead (Sense Hidden spell/scroll, PE 20, quickly pick pocket them a second time to open their inventory before they become invisible, etc).
  • If the NPC heals itself quicker than the item can damage them (and their fatigue restores to 100% afterwards), enter dialogue with them (if possible) to prevent them from casting anything.

If you simply want to take gold or a specific item from an NPC through this method, you can do so once they're dead, then resurrect them (e.g. with a Life Restorer purchased from Herbalists) and they will not be hostile afterwards. In fact, their reaction will be substantially raised; they will be grateful to you for resurrecting them!

Faster Movement[]

If you have set combat to Fast-Turn-Based in the options menu and you go into combat mode in any area by pressing R, you can move around much faster than just regular running. This is especially useful if your character doesn't have much speed. However, this technique uses Fatigue so keep that in mind in areas that have enemies.

Regain Action Points[]

If you're in turn-based combat and none of the nearby monsters have noticed you, you can go in and out of combat by pressing R, this will regain your action points so you can squeeze in some extra attacks. This is especially useful to characters using ranged attacks as you can clear a bunch of monsters from a distance.

Better Magic Loot[]

The loot in some containers in the game is generated based on your character's name, and possibly other characteristics such as gender, race and background. This means that if you start with the exact same character in every playthrough, you will get the same loot. You can test this as soon as you start the game - on the west side of the Crash Site you will find a Magick Chest. Check its loot with your current character, then make the exact same character (same name, race, gender, background) and check it again.

Also, generic magickal items have 4 tiers:

  • Charmed
  • Magick
  • Mystic
  • Arcane

If the chest you are looting is a Magick Chest, and the game puts - for example - a staff in it, that staff cannot be a Mystic or Arcane staff. It can be either Charmed or Magick.

Unlocking Cantrip Spell[]

You can use the Unlocking Cantrip spell to unlock containers and portals (windows, doors, etc.) in the game if your Magickal Aptitude is higher than the complexity of the lock. A full discussion on the tips and tricks for how to use Unlocking Cantrip can be found on its own page.

Discovering Locations Early[]

Many Locations in the game can be visited before they appear on the map by traveling to their exact coordinates. For example, Gorgoth Pass can be accessed at the exact location, and then moving up and left on a local map along the mountains. Vendigroth Ruins can accessed in the same fashion by discovering the Gateway to the Wastes first, traveling to the exact location and then going up left on a local map until you enter the location for early Vivifier! Visiting Tulla early is a somewhat involved process, which is described on a separate page.

Another example is that Stillwater is mentioned by Elder Joachim in the telegram to Virgil when the player first visits Tarant, but no coordinates are given. And it is not properly marked on the player's map until after completing the story line at the Wheel Clan. However it can be forced by going directly to it's coordinates anyway (1190W, 753S), and this can be useful as a forward base of operations for exploring the Black Mountain Clan.

Additionally, the plains North of the Grey Mountains can be accessed without traveling through Hardin's Pass by going to the far eastern point of the range to the river between the Vendigroth Wastes and the mainland. Switching to the local map and walking north along the coast will allow you to clear the mountains and travel again on the World map.

Razors Pointe travel location

A much easier way to access Caladon early is to travel to Razors Pointe and stand on the edge of the map opposite of the second Fancy Chest near the ship, from where you will be able to access the World Map and travel west.