This is a guide to playing Prophesy of Pendor. It is current as of the latest and last patch, 3.9.5. It incorporates my experience from dozens of playthroughs. It's focused on efficiency, gaining power, and winning, as opposed to role playing. There are many ways to play POP. This guide details my personal preferences and opinions.
Character Creation is most important for smoothing your early game experience. Eventually, you will have time to build your character any way you want. However, making the early game easier is important because the early game is perhaps the most difficult (and tedious) period of POP. Choices made in character creation can make the early game significantly easier. Here are what I consider the best choices:
A minor noble
arranged to serve a minor Barclay noble
received a message that your father had died
With this combination, you can start with a Charisma of 15, which allows you to boost your prisoner management skill to 5. Prisoner management skill is one of the most useful in the game, and a starting level of 5 means you won’t have to add any more points in this for a while. Prisoner management is particularly important because it increases your chances of capturing enemy lords and unique spawn leaders.
You also get a terrific piece of starting armor, the Yellow Coat of Plates, which has armor ratings of 1 (head) 55 (body) and 17 (feet) Make sure you add enough points to strength to get to 12 strength, so that you can use this armor right away. You can use this armor (for yourself and your companions) throughout the early and mid game.
You also begin with a horse (not a very good one) and a not very good sword.
Here's what your starting character looks like.
Take a ship to the Fierdsvain. It's the best place to start out due to proximity to Vanskary war parties.
The very first thing you should do:
Take a look at the "factions relations" tab. You will have neutral relations will all factions except for the Baccas Empire. Then, go to the notes section and look at the Baccas Empire and see who they are at war with. They are likely at war with at least one party (often the D'Shar.)
Head over to the Baccus Empire lands and kite their lords into the territory of their enemies. Lure them into larger enemy groups, then join the battle and fight against the Baccas lord. Because your prisoner management skill is 5, you have a decent chance of capturing any lords you fight.
Ransoming captured lords can gain you 4 to 6 thousand per lord. This is the best way to build an early nest egg of cash right off the bat. If you are lucky, you will be able to kite and capture 3 or 4 lords before peace is declared between the Baccus Empire and their opponent.
There is a tactic that you can use here (and with kiting any army into an enemy) to prevent outnumbered (but speedy) lords from running away. As soon as you see the message that a lord is "running from [someone]" you can engage them and have the option to leave. (They are too busy fleeing to fight you.) Just engage the party, then click on the "leave" choice. Move a tiny bit, then do it again and again. This slows the victim down, and allows a larger and slower enemy to catch them.
After peace breaks out, you hopefully have kited, captured, and ransomed a number of Baccus lords, so you have some spare cash that you can use to purchase a weapon or recruit companions.
Then, you can focus on the following goals:
Build your Character Stats and skills: Pathfinding is one of the most important skills in the game. It allows you to run away from stronger enemies, and catch weaker enemies. Get this up to 4 or 5 as quickly as possible. This means dumping all of your early points into Intelligence. Also, increase surgery, another INT based skill. Surgery is overall the most powerful skill in the game, as it allows you to retain your army, which gives you staying power.
Use your crossbow in combat to build crossbow skill. A Maiden Crossbow (if you can find one or buy one) is ideal because it is reasonably powerful and you can use it on horseback. Put a few points in weapon master so the weapon skill process goes more quickly. Don’t spend your weapon skill points at first. Save them for later and allow crossbow skill to just progress. Use the best bolts you can find (Mettenheim bolts are the best, so if you see them for sale, buy some.) Even though bows are generally better, I recommend using a crossbow initially because you need to build 300 skill in crossbows to have access to the Mettenheim arbalest for Sigismund Sinclair and also for your custom knighthood order. I typically try to kill several troops with my crossbow in each battle before I switch to melee weapons. Circling on horseback and shooting is a good way to build crossbow skill, especially against high-level infantry without shields (berserkers, halberdiers, etc.)
Once you get to 300 skill in crossbows (the threshold for obtaining the Mettenheim arbelest,) you can switch to regular bows (which are better overall.) Now you can spend all the weapon skill points you’ve been saving up on regular bows. Given that your ultimate goal is to be able to use regular bows by the middle and end game, you should occasionally put points into Power Draw too.
After getting to 5 Pathfinding (with 15 minimum INT) start increasing strength so you can use stronger weapons and better armor and increasing agility so you can use better horses and have better mounted archery skill.
Get renown: Building renown allows you to lead more troops. It also allows you to enter tournaments. Most of the renown you will gain is through winning battles.
Get honor: Honor is the most difficult and precious early game resource. You need honor to join knighthood orders. Unlike building renown, gaining honor requires certain circumstances. The most common early game honor opportunities come from the “Villager” quests. Farmers in taverns ask you to save their villages from bandits. When you successfully complete this quest, (and decline payment) you get honor. Never pass up the opportunity to save a village from bandits.
Letting captured lords go free instead of imprisoning them is another decent way of getting honor.
Rescuing ladies in waiting also gives you honor. Look for Heretic and Snake cult parties with ladies in waiting prisoners. Defeat them, add the lady in waiting to your party, then talk to them and free them. You get honor for each one you free.
Become a mercenary and build your warband: Talk to a lord whose faction is at war. If you have high enough renown, he will ask you to join his faction as a mercenary. Do it. The benefit of this is that your employer will pay for the costs of your troops. The obligations of a mercenary are few, and life is easy. You can fight in wars, but there is no hard and fast obligation to do so. Build your warband as big as you can with the highest quality troops you can. Don’t worry about the cost, your employer is paying for your troops. Fight a lot. Capture enemy lords and kings if you can, and either release them for honor, or take them prisoner and ransom them for cash. Becoming a mercenary is better than being a low-level vassal, because you get a monthly payment for your troops and you don’t have to worry about enemy armies constantly raiding your village. When you are a mercenary, your relations with other factions follows the relations of your employer faction. Signing on with a faction that is neutral toward the Baccus Empire is a great way to "wipe your slate clean" with the Empire and get to neutral relations with them.
Build the hidden stronghold: Talk to the scribe in the Poinsbruk tavern to start the hidden stronghold quest. To get the refugees you need for this quest, fight the various Mist Mountain raiders. They usually have one or two refugee prisoners per party. Keep on the lookout for Outcast Jatus in the taverns. You will need to hire an Outcast Jatu for your stronghold horsekeeper. Once built, the stronghold provides you with a safe place to store your extra gear, loot, and horses. It also provides garrison housing for 100 soldiers. When you obtain top tier troops, periodically drop them off at the stronghold, until you have a garrison of 100 top tier troops stationed there. You will use these to capture your first castle. The blacksmith can upgrade damaged equipment. The horsekeeper can fix swaybacked horses to normal.
Make money: Killing and looting Vanskerry Raiders is probably the most lucrative early game activity. Before you start hunting Vanskerry Raiders, talk to the Kraken Cultist knights in Windholm and ask they will offer a bounty quest. This will provide you with a big experience and cash bonus for killing Vanskerries, and also give you a chance to obtain Kraken Ridarri knights and Storm Sisters on completion. Vanskerries tend to drop valuable armor and weapons which you can sell for decent prices. Spend your money on setting up productive enterprises in every town. (Building silk dye works is generally the best answer for every town except for Janos, where a leather works makes more.) Be careful when capturing lords in battles. If you take a lord prisoner who owns a town, you won’t be able to build an enterprise in that town due to low relations with the lord.
Join a knighthood Order and start climbing the ladder of leadership: When you finally build up enough honor (15 honor points for Phoenix Knights,) you can join a knighthood order. I suggest the Knights of the Phoenix. They are located in a castle in the Empire (Calendain, Maras, or Almarra generally.) This order is one of the best cavalry orders in the game. Their armor set quest rewards are very strong. They are mounted, so you also receive horses for the quest rewards. As an added bonus, passing the initiation battle is really easy. Just bring a lance, ride a horse, knock out their horses, and then lance the dismounted knights. Unlike many orders, the Phoenix Knights don’t have ranged weapons, so you can kill them in a leisurely fashion, without dodging arrows, bolts, or thrown weapons. To advance in the order quest line, choose the bounty quest. They ask you to kill Jatu and Snake Cultists, both of which are plentiful, easy to find, and suitable for early game players. When it opens up, choose the “more challenging task” option. Do this in conjunction with the “bounty” quest. (Yes, you can do both at once, provided you haven’t just completed the bounty quest.) Take the order troops, and kill all the snake cult parties in the Empire lands, then move to the Jatu plains and kill as many Jatu as you need to hit the renown goal. When you return, you will get money, experience and rank advancement rewards for both quests, and will progress quickly. After you turn in the quests, wait a few days, come back, and do them both again.
If you find some Snake Cult, or Heretic books (from killing parties or armies) don’t use them on the Phoenix knights. Save them in your hideout vault. They are most useful for raising relations with knighthood orders with which you start out with negative relations. (Ebony Gauntlet, Dawn, and Eventide) Handing over 3 of these books to these orders raises relations by 5. It’s difficult to raise relations with hostile knighthood orders in other ways, so use the books for this purpose. Eventually, you may want to have positive relations with these orders, so having these books to raise relations is a good option.
Recruit all of your companions: Recruit your companions from taverns. Build their traits and skills.
Ansen is good for engineering and the healing skills. (surgery is key.) Put all of his points into INT, and build his skills in engineering, surgery, first aid, and wound treatment. When you find Donovan, give Ansen Donovan’s arquebus (It’s a powerful weapon that doesn’t utilize strength.) Bullets for the arquebus can be found in the hidden chest in Valonbray. The Manopener is another good weapon for Ansen, as it doesn’t have any strength requirements.
Leslie is your trader. Put all of her points into Charisma and max her trade skill to maximize your profits when you sell things.
When Lethaldiran levels up it is VERY IMPORTANT that you put his points into INT and then level up his trainer skill. This is critical later on for your Custom Knighthood Order. Lethaldiran only levels up very infrequently, so don’t botch this.
Sigismund Sinclair should put all of his points into leveling up his Strength, Power Strike, and Ironflesh. (again, for Custom Knighthood Order training later on.)
Another (Probably Sarah) should have max looting and riding skills.
Send your companions out to gather support. This builds right to rule and when they return, they bring good troops with them.
Alistair, Boadice, Rayne, Roland, and Donovan will make excellent Lords in the late game. This is their primary role. When building their skills, do it with an eye to making them more effective lords. Pathfinding, Spotting, and Training are key traits for lords, so put some of their points into these traits, as well as building up enough strength so they can use decent armor and weapons. Once you recruit them, you will likely find that some of them (Alistair, Boadice, and Donovan) are not getting along with your other core companions. You can fix this issue by keeping them on missions. Constantly send them on missions to “use their connections” to gather intelligence. When they come back, send them out again. This keeps them from fighting with other companions. A way to level them up while using this tactic is to keep them in the party just long enough to turn in a knighthood order quest. They will get experience if they are in the party when you turn in the quest. As soon as the quest has been turned in, send them out on another mission. Don’t worry too much about leveling them up. They will level up fast once you make them lords.
Frederick of Mettenheim is a special case. He makes a terrible lord (he seldom fights) and he doesn’t get along with Ansen, a key core companion. His primary value is that he is a source of Mettenheim troops. Once every few days, you can ask Frederick to supply you with troops. He will mostly provide regular Mettenheim troops, but occasionally will also provide Greatswords. Very seldom, Frederick will offer to supply Forlorn Hope troops. If he offers to supply Forlorn Hope troops, decline his offer and immediately ask Lethaldiran to supply troops. Lethaldiran will offer to supply Noldor Hunters (which upgrade easily into Noldor Warriors.) This is the best way to access Noldor troops in the game. After you send Frederick out to gather support, then constantly send him out to gather intelligence. When he returns, ask him to provide troops. Then send him out again to gather more intelligence. With this, you will get a steady supply of Mettenheim troops, which are some of the best regular troops in the game. (Mettenheim heavy crossbows and greatswords are both terrific.)
Riva and Alyssa are not very useful. They make poor lords, and they don’t get along well with core companions. Send them out to gather support, then cut them loose. I'm not a big fan of Kassim or Ediz either. I tend to hire them, send them out to gather support, then cut them loose.
Jocelyn is a good companion, but he doesn't get along with others. I keep him out on "intelligence gathering" missions to minimize friction. His primary role is for training your custom knighthood order troops. His high weapon skills and training skill make him the ideal trainer.
Bludgeon Your Enemies: Some of the best weapons in the game are not that expensive or hard to find. My favorite early and mid game melee weapons are the Battle Hammer and the Steel Mace. These are blunt weapons which are good against armored opponents. They also knock enemies down when hit. They knock enemies out, so they can be taken prisoner. Best of all, they crush through blocks, which prevents your opponent from parrying with shield or weapon. The “crush through blocks” effect is seriously overpowered, and allows you to hit enemies more often. If you see a heavy or masterwork version for sale, buy it.
A good bow (or crossbow) is key for sieges. It will be invaluable for “counter sniper” use, taking out the enemy bowmen that otherwise would murder your troops. Use the best one you can find. Even though you are using a crossbow in the early game, keep dropping points into Power Draw, so you can switch to a regular bow as soon as your crossbow skill hits 300.
Take Castles and Join a Kingdom
Once you have established dye works in all of the towns, and have at leat 50k in money, you have 100 top tier troops garrisoned in your stronghold, and can lead 200+ men in your warband, you are ready for the mid game. The goal of the mid game is to establish your own domain, with several walled fiefs. The most difficult challenge will be taking the first castle.
Build up your top tier troops. I suggest a mix of Ravenstern Rangers (the best archers) and Empire Legionnaires (very versatile infantry.) Mix in as many knighthood order and other elite troops as you can.
When you are at this point, when your mercenary contract expires, don’t renew it. You are now free to take a castle for yourself.
I suggest you start with Valorshield Castle. It is easy to attack, as it has hills overlooking the castle. This high position allows your archers to massacre the defenders. Valorshield Castle is typically held by Sarleon, so I will be assuming for this guide that Sarleon controls it.
Plan on attacking the castle twice in order to win. For the first attack, you will likely be outnumbered and the defenders may sally forth and you will fight a melee battle outside the walls. To avoid a massacre in this situation, go with a melee/infantry heavy army so you will fight better when the defenders sally. A warband with lots of Empire Legionnaires is a good choice. Fight the battle, retreat when it’s clear that you are about to lose. Then, immediately run to your stronghold, and replenish your troops from your garrison. This time, with the casualties you caused, you shouldn’t be outnumbered, so you can mix in more archers. Assuming that the defenders don’t sally forth again, you can sit on the hill overlooking the castle, and kill the enemy with your archers.
As soon as you have taken the castle, you can establish your kingdom. Doesn't matter which culture you choose at this point, because your kingdom is not going to last very long (for now.) Make one of your companions (or your wife, if you have one) your minister. (Don't use the generic "prominent citizen" choice, as you won't be able to send an emmisary.) Talk to your minister, hire a mercenary band and immediately take another castle (Whitestag Castle,) leaving a token garrison of about 10 troops in Valorshield.
As soon as you have taken Whitestag Castle, run back to Valorshield Castle, talk to your minister, and dispatch an emissary to the King of Sarleon. Ask to become a vassal of Sarleon and go under protection of King Ulric.
As soon as you send out the emissary, immediately attack another castle. I suggest either Seven Cross Keep or Almera Castle. Be aware that these castles are some of the most difficult places to attack. (They're also perhaps the easiest to defend, which makes them very valuable.) If these castles are not held by Sarleon (sometimes one or both are held by the Empire) then be aware that you will need to declare war on the holder of your target castle and will be at war with the Empire too until you find King Ulric of Sarleon and swear fealty. If the Empire holds these castles, you may want to take Talon Castle instead (assuming Sarleon holds it) to avoid the issue of having to declare war on the Empire too.
About the time you have taken your third castle you should get a response from King Ultic of Sarleon telling you he accepts you as his vassal. As fast as you can, find the king, swear fealty, and you now are a vassal of Sarleon and you own 2 (or maybe 3 if you managed to take another) Castles and half a dozen villages.
You can now start the real midgame by building power.
You may ask, “Why not just establish my own kingdom and keep it independent? Why ask to be a vassal of Sarleon?” The answer is that it’s a lot easier to build power and do the things you need to do mid-game if you are not constantly under threat from every kingdom on the map. Better to have the support of an established kingdom. I’ve done it both ways. Maintaining independence is more difficult, but can be done. It's a lot riskier and perhaps more exciting than the vassal route. This guide is focused on the more certain path, so I am assume that you're going to swear fealty to Sarleon at this point.
Establish Knighthood Orders
You should have a Qualis gem or two by this point in the game from the chest in Rane, the Red Brotherhood hideout, and maybe a unique spawn or two. Use a Qualis gem to found your own, custom knighthood order (“CKO”.) Don’t put it in Valorshield. This castle is too difficult to defend and you absolutely don’t want to lose the castle with your CKO in it. I suggest Whitestag or Seven Cross or Almera (ideally two of them if you own both castles and have 2 Qualis gems.) Then found a knighthood order of Knights of the Lion in Valorshield. Founding the Lion order won’t cost you a quails gem, and you can do it because you are now a member of Sarleon.
Build your Custom Knighthood Order
As of the latest version of Pendor (3.9.5) you can adjust equipment costs and training times for your custom knighthood order in the options section of the Camp Menu.
The most powerful and useful custom knighthood order is one designed to defeat and capture Noldor. This should be the end goal of this order. Initially, use Alastair and Jocelyn to train your CKO. They've got great stats and training skill, and don’t get along with others, so they are best utilized for training. When the knights have learned all they can from these two, use Sigismund Sinclair to raise their strength (Siggy should have 30+ strength by then) and also power strike and ironflesh (Siggy should have 10 of both of these at this point.) Finally, use Lethaldiran to pump up their skills that final bit. (By now, he should have leveled up and you have improved his Trainer skill.)
You want to equip your CKO with a good blunt weapon, a good shield, good horse, armor, and a ranged weapon. Doom mace is a very good blunt weapon, but it requires defeat of Eyegrim to unlock. The battle hammer is a good second choice. Kraken Shield is the best non-Noldor shield. Enchanted Noldor shield is best, but requires defeat of Noldor lord Aeldarian to unlock. Noldor Spirit Horse is best, but requires defeat of Ithilrandir to unlock. Jatu Warbeast is a good second choice (You unlock the Jatu Warbeast by capturing Warlord Zulkar and taking the "diamonds" reward on releasing him.) For non-unlocked horse options, get something with good armor and hit points.
Get the best armor, helms and leg armor you can, and upgrade when possible.
For the ranged weapon, I prefer the Mettenheim Arbelest. It has a slower rate of fire than a Noldor composite bow, which means that the troops tend not to expend all of their ammunition in the first 5 minutes of a siege. Also bolt quivers have more bolts than arrow quivers. When combined with the Mettenheim bolts, the arbelest does massive damage, one-shotting most opponents. You unlock the Mettenheim Arbelest by having 300 Crossbow skill and obtaining the rank of Knight Commander (150 rank points) with the knighthood order you are a member of. (NOT your CKO, but the other knighthood order, i.e. Phoenix Knights.) VERY IMPORTANT!!! If you are going to purchase a heavy crossbow like the arbalest or siege crossbow, you need to do this BEFORE you purchase the horse!!! Once the horse has been purchased, all non-horseback bows will be unavailable. To purchase a heavy bow, you need to first remove the basic horse from the equipment slot. Only after the basic horse is removed from the equipment slot will heavy crossbows show up. Purchase the Crossbow, then you can purchase the horse. CKO troops with good horses, good armor, good shields and a blunt weapon will make short work of Noldor troops, which will make you unstoppable in the end game. Their ranged weapon will make them outstanding archer/infantry troops for sieges. Purchase the armor last. It’s the most expensive, and requires strength for the better armor, so it will be a while before you can get what you want.
Keep the CKO knights at home. Don’t fight with them. At this stage, you are just training them and equipping them. Equip the Sergeants in the identical manner to the Knights. Periodically move your CKO knights and sergeants from their home castle to Valorshield. If there are too many at their home castle(s) they will stop spawning.
VERY IMPORTANT!! DO NOT SPEND MONEY WITH YOUR STEWARD TO TRAIN YOUR CKO KNIGHTS! You should only spend money to train your knights AFTER you are completely finished training them with your companions and they have no more that they can learn. One final note. Mounted troops that are equipped with ranged weapons which are not usable on horseback are bugged. The AI defaults to horse archer mode, even though the troops can't use their bows. They therefore tend to circle the enemy without engaging. Solve this by assigning them to their own troop category, and ordering them to hold their fire. They will now engage like normal melee cavalry. (Oddly enough, if they get dismounted, they will use their crossbows even if told to hold their fire.)
Build your Power
Start garrisoning your castles with good troops. Fight, build renown and honor. Get loot. Make money. Make friends among the lords of your kingdom by fighting along side them, rescuing them etc. Continue to build your skills. All of your fiefs should be garrisoned for defense, with a good contingent of top-tier archers (Ravenstern Rangers, Empire Armored X-Bows, Sarleon Armored Longbowmen) and some heavy infantry with shields (Empire Legionnaires are great for this.)
One of your castles should be over garrisoned. You will use this castle’s extra soldiers to garrison new fiefs once you declare your independence in the end game.
Improve your Character
Try to get prisoner management skill to at least 6 (requires Charisma of 18.) Get to 18 strength, which allows you to wear decent armor and wield most weapons. Also allows power draw of 6. Get your riding skill up to 7 so you can ride a Noldor Spirit Horse.
Don’t spend points for engineering (Ansen handles this by himself.) The only health skill you need is Surgery. (Even though Ansen is your primary surgeon, you can’t ever have too much surgery bonus.)
Farm Unique Spawns.
Do what you can to kill unique spawns. You won’t be the marshal for a while, so you need to be creative. When your king announces a feast in Sarleon, then kite the spawn to Sarleon so the combined might of the assembled lords can kill it.
If either of the Noldor lords has spawned, you will want to take them down because they give access to unique weapons, armor, and equipment for your CKO. They are very difficult, even for a large army. The key is to beat them down beforehand. Every time you get a message that the Snake Cult or the Jatu have spawned an army, you should run over, find that army and kite it into the Noldor woods to do battle with the Noldor lords. (Do this when the Jatu or Snake Cult army is fresh and doesn’t have a giant prisoner train.) Each time you do this, it will weaken the Noldor lord a bit. Eventually, you will be ready to kite the Noldor lord into a friendly feast gathering or war party and defeat the Noldor lord. If you are lucky enough to capture a Noldor lord, don’t ransom them for a Qualis gem. Ransom them for the secrets of their equipment first. This is important for equipping your CKO. If you are lucky enough to capture them a second time, take Aeldarian’s bow, Duskfall, and Ithilrandir’s rune armor. Duskfall is, I believe, the best all-around bow in the game. Taking their weapon or armor will cause them to never re-spawn, but I find that the Noldor lords are not worth the effort for quails gem farming. They are just too tough.
Start Hunting Noldor.
Eventually, your Custom Knighthood Order will be equipped with their Horse, Blunt weapon (battle hammer or Doom Mace,) shield, and ranged weapon (Mettenheim arbalest.) They spawn regularly at the castles, so you will, by this stage, have more than 100 CKO troops between the knights and sergeants. You don’t have to wait to have their armor equipped to start Noldor hunting. They will still be able to get the job done even with their crappy starting armor, assuming that they have good shields.
Gather a warband of CKO knights and sergeants, at least 100 men, the more the better. If you have other blunt weapon troops like Battle Brothers, Clerics, War Priests, or Ebony Gauntlet hammers, then add them to the warband too.
Go to the Laria woods and target Noldor patrols. Try to start with the smaller (50-60 strength) ones to begin. It’s best to kite them out of the woods onto the plains between Laria and Ethos. You want the terrain to be as flat and unforested as possible. Fighting Noldor in the woods or mountains is much more difficult and you will lose a lot of men. On flat, open terrain, your CKO knights will make short work of Noldor patrols. You will lose 1-5 men per engagement (fewer if you have good armor.)
Sell the loot, and sell the Ranger and Warrior prisoners. Keep the nobles, twilight knights, and maiden rangers prisoners in your castle prison tower. For each battle fought, you will earn about 20k in gold between loot and ransomed prisoners.
Before starting out on your Noldor hunting, make sure to visit Laria and ask the Rangers of the Clarion call if there is something you can do to help. Choose the “Bounty” quest, where they will ask that you hunt Noldor and Jatu. This way, while you are hunting Noldor for fun and profit, you are earning extra experience and gold from the Clarion Call bounties. The Knights of the Ebony Gauntlet also ask you to hunt for Noldor. If you have neutral or better relations with the Ebony Gauntlet, you can hunt Noldor bounties for them as well. (Giving them 2 sets of three Heretic or Snake Cult books will get you to neutral relations with the Ebony Gauntlet.)
This Noldor hunting is the best way to make money in the entire game. You can easily make more than 100k per week doing this. It’s a good way to finance your larger purchases, such as CKO armor, large pouches of diamonds etc.
After you have made several hundred thousand in gold from your Noldor farming, take all of the Noldor Nobles, Twilight Knights, and Maiden Rangers you’ve been keeping in your prison towers and release them. Each such prisoner released will give you +1 renown, +1 honor, and +1 positive relations with the Noldor. It is very important that you have enough prisoners of these types that releasing them will get you to at least +30 relations, as this is needed to do Quigfen’s Noldor quest and access to Elecrai. You don’t want to be at 5 relations, for example, because then you can’t attack the Noldor, and you can’t access Elecrai. If you mistakenly find yourself in this “friend zone,” the best way to increase relations is to read one of the Noldor books which raises relations. Remember, you want either negative relations, or relations of 30+.
Once you complete Quigfen’s quest and gain access to Elecrai, you can always go back to negative relations with the Noldor and start hunting them again by talking with Sadren in Elecrai and insulting him. You can bounce back and forth between hunting them and positive relations as many times as you want. (Make sure you always release enough Noldor prisoners to get to 30+ positive relations so you can access Elecrai.)
All of the Noldor nobles, Maiden Rangers, and Twilight Knights you are releasing are building honor. Your goal is to get to 350 honor (500 gives you an extra point to Charisma.) 350 honor is an important milestone, because it maximizes the number of CKO troops you can recruit.
Become Marshal. Get Laria, and Build your Holdings:
Once your renown and relations with Sarleon and Ulric become high enough, Ulric will offer to make you Marshal. This is the moment you have been waiting for, and is your gateway to the end game. As Marshal, you can use the entire Sarleon force to take down unique spawns, farm quails gems, and (most importantly) expand your domain. Try to take a town from your enemies. Then ask for it to be awarded to you. If you get it, then go find Duke Alamar, and offer to exchange your new town for Laria. He may ask for some money to make the exchange. Pay the money. Laria is the best town in the game. Its proximity to the Noldor is very useful. Also, owning Laria allows you to establish Clarion Call orders in any castles you take (no quails gem required.) You should also exchange any castles you take and are awarded for a castle that is closer to your home base. Calendain castle and Harringoth castle are both a good choices, as they are reasonably close to Laria and easily defended. Talon castle is also easily defended, but it’s also one of the first targets for Ravenstern if they declare war on Sarleon, so you may have to defend it more often. You want all of your possessions somewhat close to each other, so you can easily provide support in case of attack. Establish knighthood orders (either Clarior Call or CKO) in each of your new castles. If you take another town, then exchange it for Marleons, which is close enough to Laria and the rest of your castles that you can support it easily.
I recommend spending your first two quails gems on establishing custom knighthood orders. Having two CKO chapter houses will double the spawn rate for CKO troops.
I like to use my next 3 qualis gems to buy elexirs from Fineas DeDigit to bump my Strength, Agility, and Charisma by 6 total points. This really helps with leveling up your character. You may want to wait unti you are at 210 skill with crossbows before your use the elixers. Elixers boost your weapon skills by 30 each, so drinking 3 elixers with 210 crossbow skill will take you to the 300 skill level you need to unlock the Mettenheim arbelest. (Leveling up skill becomes progressively more difficult the higher you go. Getting to 210 is not that bad. Getting from 210 to 300 takes a while, so the elixers can really help speed up this process if you wait to drink them until you are already at 210 skill.)
After that, the choice is between rune weapons and rune armor (or maybe more elixers, but after 3 their effect is halved.) By this stage, you should already have a good bow, because you will get lots of Noldor composite bow drops while farming Noldor. The Noldor composite bow is very good, and allows you to snipe enemies in sieges. Of the various rune bows, I prefer the Emerald Rune Bow for its outstanding accuracy, and decent damage. The Ruby rune bow does more damage, and is great for defense in seiges, but for all around use, especially sniping enemy archers during offensive sieges, accuracy is more important. The best bow in the game, in my opinion, is Aeldarian’s Duskfall weapon. Do what you can to capture Aeldarian and take Duskfall (after you’ve released him the first time for the secrets of his CKO equipment.) It’s possible that you will have the chance to capture Aeldarian the second time at some point in the mid game.
The rune melee weapons are not worth buying at this stage. There are so many good melee weapon options that I don’t spend my quails gems on melee weapons until I have a qualis surplus. (Then, the ruby rune 2 handed sword simply rocks.) Some playthroughs, I find I’m using a steel mace (masterwork if I can find one for sale) throughout the whole game. The crush through blocks feature is just that good.
Rune Armor is worth spending gems on. The emerald rune armor is terrific, lightweight, and doesn’t require crazy strength to use. As soon as you are able to capture Ithilrandir the second time (the first is to unlock his CKO equipment) go ahead and take his armor. (His weapon is good, but not spectacular.) Then, spend quails gems to turn the rune armor into Emerald Rune armor.
Love and Marriage
You should court and wed a lady. The wedding will give you right to rule, and a wife makes the best minister in the end game. Lady Elina is a good choice for your affections. Her father is Duke Aelfwine and she’s based in Marleons, which makes her accessible. You can use poetry to speed up the courtship process, but I find that just visiting her regularly is enough. Do some quests for her father, Duke Aelfwine to gain his favor for the marriage.
The End Game
At some point, you will have farmed enough Noldor to have amassed several hundred thousand in money, and increased your honor to 350+. Your CKO is mostly trained and equipped with everything except maybe their final piece of body armor. You own 2 to 3 castles, and the town of Laria.
You’re now ready to restart your own kingdom.
At this point, make sure that Alastair, Boadice, Donovan, Roland and Rayne are in your party.
Start taking castles or towns. Talk to a friendly lord (or two,) tell them to follow you, because you have a plan, and use them to besiege enemy towns and castles. When you capture the town/castle, ask that it be awarded to you. Wait until the king makes his decision. If he awards the new fief to you, then immediately trade it to another lord for a fief that is closer to your home area around Laria. As soon as the trade goes through, go to your new castle and establish a chapter of the Rangers of the Clarion call or the Knights of the Lion. Do this over and over again.
Eventually, the king will decline to award you the fief you just captured. Now, you can start your rebellion for independence.
Rebellion and Establishing your Kingdom
When you don’t get awarded your fief, make the choice to rebel and keep your fiefs.
Go to your capital and establish your kingdom. Make your wife your minister.
You will need to choose your Kingdom’s culture. They all have their benefits and drawbacks. Personally, my favorite is Pendor. Their troops, while not the best, train very quickly. They also have some of the best noble troops (including the unique Black Archers.) Pendor culture also allows you to create some of the most interesting knighthood orders (Ebony Gauntlet, Silvermist Rangers, etc.) Really, though, it doesn’t matter. Pick whichever culture you like.
You have now begun your own kingdom. Hire a mercenary company (Timothy’s Knights are a good choice.)
Talk to Alastair, Boadice, Donovan, Roland and Rayne and grant them each a village as a fief.
You are now at war with Sarleon. They outnumber you tremendously. However, they are fighting on two fronts, as they are already at war with another faction. Also, you can act much more quickly than they can.
Start taking castles and towns. When you capture a fief, always keep it for yourself initially. Talk to the steward, go to the War Room and pick up the baggage train. Then, spend 25k and establish a chapter of the Clarion Call knighthood order.
Give the first castle to Alastair, the second to Roland, and the third to Boadice. (either by meeting them in the field and exchanging the castle for their village, or by running back to Laria and using your minister to award the castle to them. If you capture any towns, keep them for yourself permanently.
Sarleon will react, but don’t worry about it. In the time it takes them to besiege a castle and take it back, you will have taken two more. They simply can’t keep up. If they take back a castle or two, not to worry, you can just retake it when they are busy feasting. The only concern you should have is if they try to take Laria or one of your castles that houses your CKO. If they attack these targets, consider fighting. Laria, Whitestag, and Seven Cross Keep are all pretty defensible. With decent troops, you should be able to withstand a siege, even if heavily outnumbered. If they lose a siege, they will be vulnerable, and you can pick off the depleted lords.
Pick your field battles carefully. If you are clever, you can defeat a much larger host of enemies by joining battles already in progress (which freezes the battle and doesn’t allow the enemy to reinforce each other.)
The goal of this expansion phase is to take as many castles and towns as quickly as possible. Focus on targets that you can assail with ladders (siege towers take too long.) You can take a town/castle with ladders faster than the enemy can react.
Before long, Sarleon will ask for peace. Accept it. Use your minister and the fief exchange mechanic to make sure that the new castles you’ve taken are distributed to your companion lords and that the villages they hold are close to their castles. Ideally, every companion lord should hold 1 castle and 2 nearby villages.
The Path to Victory
From here, start farming Noldor again with your CKO troops, building a large war chest and powerful garrisons. In later wars, release Lords that you may want to have as vassals in the future to build relations with them.
Declare war opportunistically when factions are already at war and beset by their rivals.
A few suggestions:
1: Always establish knighthood order chapters in every castle you conquer, even if you plan to give it to a vassal. A vassal with a knighthood order in their castle will spawn with order troops, and the castle’s garrison will also spawn these troops. Holding Laria means that you can establish Clarion Call chapters for 25k and no quails gem.
2: Try to keep your own fiefs relatively close to each other. If most of your holdings are around Laria, then give Nal-Tar to a vassal. Ideally, you want to be able to move garrison troops between castles/towns, reinforcing them when they are threatened.
3: Don’t induct any CKO troops into your Custom Knighthood Order until you have 350 honor. Having 350 honor means that the renown cost of inducting these troops is much less than it would otherwise be. (If you’re farming Noldor and releasing the nobles, knights and maidens, getting to 350 honor is easy.)
4: Defeating a Jatu army (including Warlord Zulkar or K'Juda the Ravager) increases your riding skill by +1. Waiting until your riding skill is already high (I like to get it to at least 6) before you defeat a Jatu army makes it so you don't have to add an additional 3 points into Agility (which is primarily used for riding.)
At this point, there’s still a lot to do, but you will find that your ultimate victory is inevitable.