Balrum is a basic single player RPG, not dissimilar to Runescape. You have the option of being an archer, mage or warrior, can build and customise a dwelling, complete with farm management of crops, pigs, chickens, giant spiders(!), and cows. You also have other options such as alchemy, swordsmithing, armourer, etc, but skills come as a cost, limiting your paths, so every ‘learning point’ must be used wisely.
Scattered about the realms are books offering free training (saving you precious ‘learning points’). I won’t spoil it completely, but as a matter of course you want to explore every patch or dirt, log, strange bush, chest, and cave.
Starter game choices:
First choice: farming, survival or cooking experience?
I completed the game without cooking, and farming is a take or leave it sort of thing because getting seeds and feeding livestock is a chore. Survival however is pretty much essential. Start with this, get to level 2 with a trainer, like Fox, then get to level 3 as soon as possible in chapter 2. Why survival? Your resources (eg food/water) last longer, your torches cover a greater area (handy to see foes before they see you in caverns!), and you get a chance to ‘cheat death’ – which I guarantee you’ll need as one creature, the Abomination, has a spell that hits for 13,000 damage after 100 ticks.
Second choice: Class
This is personal preference based on your playing style (warrior vs mage vs archer) but I recommend the mage because you get healing spells, ranged attacks and can run in a circuit killing almost anything, even mobs 6 levels higher than you, mostly… I say mostly because some creatures (like butterflies) have a longer spell range, drain your mana and hit hard. Then there’s raptors that are fast, get double attacks and no massive damage. As for archer/hunters, you’ll spend half your game chopping down trees, mining, and farming creatures for parts to make your arrows.
Third choice: secondary skills, mining, alchemy, or hunting?
Forget alchemy completely, you can find books for level one and two early in the game, saving your 5 learning points. Hunting, well, you get more body parts from farming mobs (needed if you take the crafting route) and can tame other creatures (to replace your starter wolf), but really mining is the one to start with. Firstly, a number of the building options in the ‘safe area’ need iron bars, and lots of stone; secondary, unless you need it all for crafting, it’s a huge source of income from the various ores and gems. Level one is fine to get through the game (level 2 is free too). As a note, bars are worth more than ore, level 1 let you smelt iron and silver, level 2 gold.
Fourth choice: attributes
Mage: 3 intelligence, 3 wisdom, 2 vitality
Warrior: 3 strength, 3 vitality, 2 dexterity
Archer: 3 dexterity, 3 vitality, 2 strength
Fifth choice: supplies
Forget Thaler (coin of the realm), they are easy to get.
Healing potions are a handy option.
Phoenix eggs drop from chopping trees, so easy to farm.
Nightmare berries again, farmable from caverns etc (but hoard them if you are a mage, they are needed for teleport and there’s times when running away in the better option.
Magical seed in my preference as, once planted and grown, gives you a (random) magical item, be it armour, a scroll, or something else.
Speed potion is nice, for faster exploring, or running in, looting a chest and running away.
Last creation choice, ring:
Take the Phoenix ring as it’s unique and very useful. Firstly it saves you chopping down forests to maintain a supply of Phoenix eggs (for resurrecting your pet). Secondly, all the others – and better – drop in the game, this is only available on creation.
Other in-game learning options:
Primary attributes cost learning points, better to get these as you learn up.
Carpentry. This is largely cosmetic, you get level 1 free and there’s a book for level 2, ignore this.
Cooking is an option, but you can get by without it.
Trapping: really, don’t bother.
Hunting: there are one or two quests involving trapping, but really, I’d give it a miss, unless you intend on harvesting body parts.
Create weapons / armour will need mining up to 4 as well, will suck up a load of learning points, and unless it’s something you want to explore, offers few items that, with exploring, you can’t find better in-game, like the legendary armour and weapon sets.
Pick locks: complete the quest to get it. Level 1 is all you’ll ever really need (just save before opening a chest, a pen and paper helps, especially later in the game when the locks get harder (6,7 tumblers). Again, you you level it up if that’s how you want to play, in character, but it’s not needed.
Chapter 1 offers:
Alchemy 1 NW
Alchemy 2 NW
Arcane 2 NW
Learning Point book (x1) – NE
Swords 2 – SE
(No Archery 2 !?)
Chapter 2 offers:
Carpentry 2 – SE
Farming 2 – SW
Mining 2 – NW
Chapters 1 through 5
‘Old Shrines’ give stats, for coins, but these are a one-off deal, and require forethough, and a save. Male shrines give 1 point of Strength OR Dexterity, and health, Female shrines give one point of Intelligence OR Wisdom, and mana.
The stat point is a one-off and costs 200 ‘Thaler’. The 20 and 80 Thaler donations reward heath, or mana accordingly. Once the option bar turns grey, that’s it, you can’t donate again to shrines for the rest of the game (though you can donate to one or two priests for permanent health bonuses.
Note that the donation is RNG based, you cannot choose or take back a reward. Furthermore, especially for mana/health, it’s not a guaranteed reward. You might get it first try, or you might need 10 or 20 donations to help the bonus. Save and reload often, it will ensue you get the right main stat, and save you a load of coins too.
As a personal preference, I recommend going to a male shrine for health (20, 80 thaler donations), and to a female shrine for intelligence (or wisdom). Some of the legendary/orange drops/sets need 10 base points in intelligence to equip (strength/dexterity for other classes) and while all the wisdom and mana you can get is great (faster in-battle mana regeneration), it’s no use if some raptor bites your head off because you have low health and are dead before you can get a few spells cast.
Learning Point (x1) are awarded for killing each of the ‘legendary’ (orange) named bosses. Many give achievements too, and they have the best loot.