Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura – Tips and Tricks for Getting Started

Before you play the Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magick Obscura game, you will definitely want to know these simple but useful tips and tricks. If you have any tips feel free to share with us!

Things to Know Before Playing

Character Creation

  • When creating your character, avoid the backgrounds that depend on your location for magic. Miracle Operation is almost overpowered.
  • Also avoid any background that gives you a weapon, or increased starting gold. These become useless so quickly that you’ll regret taking them by level 2.
  • When selecting your items from the shop before you start, get the lockpicks, as they have a 10% boost, and the dress (if female), since you won’t find either again any time soon. Then get some potions and a cheap dagger. You’ll find better stuff shortly.
  • Dexterity is probably the most important attribute, since it governs most combat skills, as well as the thief abilities as well. If you want to succeed at melee, you need DX more than you need strength (although that helps, too).
  • Your initial reaction modifier has some effect on quests but intelligence actually determines the better dialog options (and having too little limits your character to “Hulk speak” options unless you keep chugging intelligence potions for every conversation). For combat oriented characters, dexterity is infinitely better than than strength even if you plan on specializing in melee weapons. Finally, magic is extremely overpowered. If you want to breeze through the game then build a mage type character.
  • Beauty is a little useless, since you can excel as an intelligent ugly person, but not as a beautiful idiot.

Starting Out

  • Make sure you grab the passport, the matchbook, the camera, the letter, and the Molochean Hand amulet from the crash site.
  • The first town sucks, but has lots of good XP. Don’t give the guy the camera though. Once you get out of the Shrouded hills, the game really starts to shine. You can skip it almost entirely if you want as well.
  • Get Sogg Meadmug from the first town. He’s one of the few characters that will stay at your side no matter what you do, and he’s great for killing things early game. You need at least a 9 Charisma to get Sogg to join.
  • If you plan on thieving, don’t kill Lucan at the Shrouded Hills bridge. Instead, persuade him (you only need one rank, and maybe Apprentice level) and he’ll give you an in with the Thief Underground in Tarant and Caladon.

General Gameplay

  • Get Drog Blacktooths patch for the game which can be found here.
  • Turn the battle system on turn based.
  • You get more experience in combat if You’re the one hitting the monsters, not your party members (Only a small portion of combat xp is for the kill – most is for doing damage to the enemy).
  • Magic is incredibly useful. Teleport will eliminate annoying travel, cantrip will unlock most doors, harm will kill almost everything, and charm will let you talk to almost anyone in a positive matter. Don’t spam it at the beginning of the game though, you’ll run out of fatigue, and fall over.
  • If you’re a mage, get Harm.
  • Fighting fucking hard enemies? Have Harm ready and turn the battle on to free time and rapid-fire Harm as the enemy runs at you. You’ll attack a lot faster and far, far more often than turn based.
  • Even if you’re going tech, get teleport. It is so damned useful.
  • By this same logic, as a tech don’t be afraid to use magic scrolls. Most useful are scrolls of Exiting and Divine Magic. Other scrolls to hang on to include Conjure Spirit, Shrink, Dominate Will and any summons you might find. Techs will still be able to cast them, for some reason.
  • If you find an empty building, with a box in it, feel free to put your stuff in it, it will never go away.
  • Make sure you have lots of ammo before going anywhere if you’re using a gun. I mean lots, like multiple stacks, and stuff to make more if needed.
  • If you do decide to go the tech route, then for the love of god invest in grenades and throwing. You can easily fashion grenades out of things you find in trash cans throughout the entire game and they are devastating. However, be aware that your character will have some of severe palsy when throwing at first so quick save before you throw grenades at the beginning of the game because you will, without fail, end up throwing one backwards into a group of guards/children/teammates/etc.
  • If you’re a tech that’s high on the scale (75 or so) healing magic will almost always fail on you. BUT most of the party-joinable NPCs in the game don’t fall far enough on the scale in either direction for this to be the case, so you might want to have a healer in your party to look after them, while you take care of your own healing.
  • Items to hang onto: shovel, mithril, Molochean Hand amulet, kathorn crystal, heartstone, and, if you’re a tech, saltpeter & charcoal (the two components in bullets).
  • You need a Charisma of 20 to persuade the final boss to give up.
  • It’s rather easy to break arcanum with real time combat by making a super fast melee attacker and using support spells. Some weapons like the steel dagger have a 2 frame attack animation so you just attack dozens of times per second, obliterating anything with a thousand cuts before they can even attack. And sometimes you can just enable turn based combat and attack like 20 times per turn or something crazy like that.

Location Specific Tips


  • Worthless Mutt is the best fighter NPC in the game. If you want him in your party, remember two things: (1) Mutt is so good at fighting that for the first half of the game, having him in your party will make combat very boring (and less lucrative in terms of experience, since Mutt will tear through enemies before you can even reach them). (2) If you want him in your party, you’ll have to hoof it to the inn the first time you arrive in Ashbury. Get to the east side of the inn (SE part of town) and rescue him from the gnome kicking him to death. If you take too long, Mutt will die.
  • At the docks in Ashbury there is a locked barrel next to a ship. In it there is a book titled The Hand. Unlock it without getting caught and bring it with you when you take that ship.

Black Mountain Clan

  • By the time you explore the Black Mountain Clan, you should be at least level 20, your entire party should be wearing metal armor, you’ll need to be able to take some heavy hits, you’ll need to be able to heal yourself a lot, and you’ll need at least apprentice level in repair, OR lots of weapons, or the ability to teleport out of a dungeon with an Exit scroll to get your equipment fixed by someone else.

Isle of Despair

  • You cannot return to the Isle of Despair once you have left. There is an NPC there you need to talk to in order to get the best ending for Dernholm.


  • Speak to everyone in the inn. One of them will help you find a bridge that’s crucial to travel on that side of the continent.

T’sen Ang

  • Make sure you have (and are possibly wearing) the Molochean Hand amulet before entering T’sen Ang.


  • Be sure to travel to Dernholm and Black Root before heading to Tarant.
  • In Tarant, you can deliver a note for a shady individual (in the Wellington Gentleman’s club), solve the theft of a painting (the Garringsburg heist), and fetch a new crystal ball for a psychic. Be sure to complete the quests in this order, and for the crystal ball quest, side with Toussaud not Besson.
  • Speak to Thom Grak (middle of Tarant) to start one of the more interesting quest lines.
  • There’s a warehouse in Tarant (just E of the Docks subway station) with a halfling outside. Help him clear out the rats in the warehouse, and you can use any of the interior containers for storage. Handy because it’s right next to a subway station and the docks (for when you get your own ship).
  • Magnus can smelt Iron Ore + Steel into Pure Ore, and combine it with a Fine Hilt Guard to make a Balanced Sword. Balanced swords are a fantastic weapon for a fresh party.


When it’s time to go to Thanatos, you can either pay a lot of money for passage or you can get your own ship. Getting the ship is more complicated, but worth it since you can travel to virtually any city for free from that point on.

If you’re playing a gunfighter/thief:

  • Keep in mind that magically unlocking something will make a noise, and anyone nearby will hear it. This means if you’re trying to rob someone or break into someplace, it will be very difficult to do without getting caught. Lockpicking, on the other hand, is almost entirely silent, and you can enter Prowl mode (even if you have no points in it) well enough to avoid being caught by sleeping people.
  • Guns are awesome, but only the good ones you’ll get later / have to know where to find. I usually don’t even bother putting points into Firearms/Perception/Gun Smithy until at least level 25 or so. Before that, guns are just heavy and bullets are expensive and you can’t shoot worth shit. Just suck it up and go melee for the first half of the game.
  • As a gunfighter, hoard the following items: saltpeter/charcoal (for bullets), looking glasses, marksman rifles, mithril, charges, and corrosive acid. Everything else can be found pretty easily.
  • You’ll need three ranks of pick locks and Expert level in it before it’ll be feasible to steal from shopkeepers. With a good starting Dexterity, you should be able to achieve this before reaching Tarant (as there’s an Expert trainer in Black Root).
  • The easiest way to steal from shopkeepers is to wait in their store until evening, then wait two more hours. They’ll head for the bedroom, where the barrel with all their merch is, and you can just follow them in. Then, be sure to enter prowl mode (you don’t need any ranks in it) while picking the lock on their stash, which will usually be a chest or barrel near their bed. This is the only way to rob stores with guards, inside or outside.
  • Some shopkeepers never sleep, which means you can never rob them.
  • As a tech, you’ll eventually be barred from trading with mages. You can still steal from them, though.
  • As a thief, don’t waste too many points on pickpockets. It’s ineffective for largescale theft because you can only pickpocket 100gp from someone at a time, and the level bonuses aren’t all that great. I tend to save up my fate points for the like 4 times the game needs me to pick a pocket.
  • As a gunfighter/thief, pump your Dexterity to about 13 or 15 (enough to reach expert level in Pick Locks). Ignore melee, and possibly even dodge. Boost your perception up to a natural 17 so you can advance firearms quickly, as you’ll suffer without a decent melee attack. DX is crucial, though, so that you can steal guns, bullets and armor.
  • Your best weapons will probably be the Fine Revolver, then the Repeater Rifle, then the Hand Cannon, which you’ll eventually replace with Droch’s Warbringer. Those will pretty much slice through any enemy you’re likely to encounter. After that, you should be a high enough level to make the crazy ones like the Tesla gun or the Acid Gun.
Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13990 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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