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Until more is known about each individual skill, and on the suspicion that much will be parallel and/or related, and so that all information/discussion can be collected in one place (for now, at least), all "combat skills" will redirect here, at least until it becomes more clear if/how we should break them up.
General combat skills
General Combat skills are a category of skills that are collectively unrelated to whether a dwarf is using weapons or armor but are useful for combat.
- Archer - increases with the use of any ranged attack, including throwing. Its exact function is unknown, except that it was shown to decrease the probability of an enemy dodging a ranged attack. Aside from that, it can serve as an indicator of how much ranged weapons are used.
- Biter - increases whenever a character chooses to bite an opponent. This is probably the most effective attack for a creature whose biting causes a syndrome, but some immigrants will arrive with this skill as well, and unarmed combatants will occasionally learn a bit when they choose to bite during a combat.
- Dodger - aids creatures in avoidance, causing enemies to miss more often. Scanning of combat reports suggest that dodging is very common and effective - assuming that messages referring to dodging are in essence caused by the dodger skill. Dodging can, unfortunately, cause dwarves to fall through z levels into deep pits, water, or even magma; they do not attempt to avoid dodging into perilous locales. Dodging can even be done while lying on the ground, making it a particularly valuable skill.
- Fighter - increases with each melee attack (from or to a target), no matter what kind of weapon is used, and can increase rather quickly. Its use or significance is currently not known. However, when tested in arena mode with two dwarves, one unskilled and one grand master fighter, the one with fighter skill won consistently while armed with any of the default weapons. Unarmed dwarves showed no preference.
- Kicker - increased by kicking in unarmed combat. Stance strikes from kicking tend to have a blunt attack type.
- Striker - increased by throwing punches and scratching with claws or nails in unarmed combat.
- Wrestler - pertains to incapacitating enemies by holding limbs. Wrestlers are generally unable to kill much, but they may make killing easier for their armed comrades. Their punches do kill fellow dwarves when tantruming. Wrestlers can strangle enemies unconscious, break joints, and even take away weapons and armor, but the AI is rather unlikely to do so (making adventurer wrestlers much more effective).
Equipment skills are associated with the use of non-weapon equipment, and as a class increase dwarf survivability.
- Armor User - related to how well a dwarf moves in armor, and increases whenever a dwarf wearing armor attacks or is attacked. Higher levels of this skill reduces the encumbrance penalties of armor, allowing dwarves wearing full steel plate to move at normal speed. Arena testing also indicates that armor users become tired less easily than non armor wearers (300 vs 100 announcements vs bronze colossus). Because even leather clothes count as armor, this skill often appears at dabbling level on civilians who briefly struggle with a kobold thief or predatory animals.
- Shield User - increases whenever a dwarf uses a shield or buckler to block an attack, which is often. Shields increase survivability of dwarves a great deal, and can block anything from a goblin axe to dragonfire.
Weapon skills are associated with the use of a particular weapon type, even if that weapon type is "thrown vomit" in adventure mode. Arena testing indicates weapon skill is more powerful per-point than any other combat skill (assuming the appropriate weapon is equipped!), it contributes to offensive ability and parrying. The name of many of these skills is dependent on species: a dwarven spear user will be known as a 'Speardwarf'.
- Axeman - allows characters to use axes, great axes, and halberds more effectively.
- Blowgunner - allows characters to use blowguns more effectively.
- Bowman - allows characters to use bows more effectively.
- Crossbowman - allows characters to use crossbows more effectively. The dwarven version is called Marksdwarf.
- Hammerman - allows characters to use mauls and war hammers more effectively, as well as crossbows in melee.
- Knife User - allows characters to use large daggers and knives more effectively.
- Lasher - allows characters to use whips and scourges more effectively.
- Maceman - allows characters to use flails, maces, and morningstars more effectively.
- Miner - not strictly a weapon skill, but allows characters to use picks more effectively as weapons. This is also the only moodable combat-usable skill.
- Misc. Object User - allows characters to use objects like tables and chairs more effectively as weapons. In fortress mode, this skill tends to increase when dwarves tantrum and break some heads with a +Granite Throne+. It also is used with shields, making it useful if a military dwarf is disarmed (either literally or not).
- Pikeman - allows characters to use pikes more effectively.
- Spearman - allows characters to use spears more effectively.
- Swordsman - allows characters to use long swords, scimitars, short swords, and two-handed swords more effectively, as well as blowguns and bows in melee.
- Thrower - allows characters to throw miscellaneous objects more effectively. Throwing is still as hilariously overpowered as in previous versions, and you can totally kill a charging elephant with thrown water.
- Outstanding research on several combat skills by Shinziril
- A scientific test of how the Archer and Marksdwarf skills affect ranged combat: Dwarven Research: A Study of the 'Archer' and 'Marksdwarf' Skills
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