It wasn’t the Attribute Points from levels that determined what monsters could be defeated, but instead training and equipment. Though the free Attribute Points might seem to be important at first glance, their effect was secondary. At lower levels, training base statistics was more important. Since adventuring was my job, I thought about these things a lot… and talked about them with my party members.
Those who thought levels were the most important just weren’t trained in basic math. Ignoring my Strength, I increased my attributes by around 40 with a month of intense training. That was worth four levels. In the same period of time, I got one level. If we’d focused only on fighting monsters, we might have gotten two. Our attributes could also go up just from fighting monsters, but all training worked something like physical exercise- we had to push ourselves to the limits, which also meant a period of weakness and recovery time was required. Inside a dungeon, that period of weakness could get us killed.
Why didn’t we spend all of our time training outside the dungeon then? First of all, we needed money. That was just a requirement to live. We could have worked other jobs, but they would have taken more time for less money. On the other hand, they didn’t require an investment in equipment and were safe, so some low level adventurers or prospective adventurers did that.
The second reason to enter the dungeon was for the practical combat experience. Not the experience that gave levels, but just knowing how to fight. Of course, this sometimes also gave levels in skills, but Sgar mentioned that there was a difference between people with the same Attribute Points and even skill levels based on what they had actually done. Not everything was tracked in the status window. Knowing when and how to use a skill or what to do against a specific type of monster wasn’t measured in numbers. Even if I flawlessly used Whirlwind Attack against a large monster, it wouldn’t be better than Bash, or even a normal attack.
Training outside the dungeon also only worked up to a certain point before we would hit the limit on training attributes. There were certain factors that affected the limits such as class and likely genetics. Even levels had some effect. A higher level person could train to greater limits, aside from the effect of bonus Attribute Points. After reaching the limit it would be nearly impossible to grow any significant amount stronger. The exception were those who had blessings or in my case, All In. With something like those, attributes could grow almost indefinitely… though growth still slowed down significantly at certain points. It was also the case that after a certain point, it could be difficult to actually find something challenging enough to cause growth.
Socks was different from us… she grew bigger. I was surprised at this, since I thought she was as big as wolves got… but that was only the case in a normal world, without magic. Socks could level up as well, and unlike humanoids, animals and monsters didn’t get Attribute Points to spend. Instead, they just grew stronger- and sometimes bigger. Socks had only grown a few inches taller, but that was pretty noticeable over the course of a month or two. Each level gave her around 10 points in Strength, as close my Analyze Strength ability could tell. She also increased in other areas. That was the tradeoff for not being able to grow much from training. The total growth was also increased somewhat by being a Beast Tamer’s pet, so Socks would be stronger than a regular wolf of the same level.
We had passed the midpoint of the second level, and were moving onto the deep areas. Progress was somewhat harder to make, not because the goblins were that much more difficult, but merely because we had to re-traverse the dungeon every day. The path to the lower levels of the dungeon was generally clear, as there were others traveling on it and defeating the enemies. Of course, goblins could patrol into the area and traps occasionally appeared on the easiest path, so we couldn’t just rush through.
Apparently in deeper dungeons people sometimes rested for the night. That was dangerous, so you usually wanted two or more parties in the same place to watch over each other. I was glad we didn’t need to do that here. Even if it might be a very long day, at the very most we would still be able to enter and leave the deepest parts. This dungeon was only three levels deep, which made sense considering it was only goblins. Some dungeons transitions from weaker to stronger monster types, and others were single types and their variants- like the goblins with bows and those with melee weapons.
At the end of the second level, we finally saw a type that was definitely different from the others. Magic users. These were a pain to deal with, as it was a type of attack we hadn’t really had to face before. Alhorn and I had armor that could take hits from the other goblins and be pretty much unharmed. That didn’t mean we wanted to let them hit us, but it wasn’t a big danger. Magic, however, caused some problems.
Fire magic could heat up armor… which was very uncomfortable. It wasn’t strong enough to burn us alive inside our armor, but it was best if we could avoid it. It could still scorch us, and multiple hits would compound the issue. Ice magic at the level the goblin magic users could accomplish wasn’t much of a threat. In fact, it was almost refreshing. At some point ice magic could throw dangerous ice spikes, but goblins weren’t particularly well suited for magic. Their big threat was numbers, not intelligence.
Wind magic was an annoyance for Halette- and to myself if I used my bow or sling. It wasn’t a threat to any of us physically though.
Lightning magic… was a pain. It wasn’t strong enough to kill anyone yet, but it also caused metal armor to heat up. We also couldn’t dodge it, because it moved too quickly and was attracted toward us. In addition to the heat, there was a jolt that tensed our muscles when we got hit. That could throw us off in the middle of battle. We could still handle it, but it was probably the worst type to face.
If he was prepared, Alhorn could block anything. Like Kantrilla, he could also create barrier magic. When he used it on himself, it was more powerful- if usually a short duration. Its biggest advantage was that it could block magic without transferring the effects to him. The biggest disadvantage was that it quickly drained him of mana, so we mostly used it in larger battles where we couldn’t afford to let little bits of damage build up into something dangerous.
Everyone was very happy with our progress through the dungeon, and we were just about ready to enter the third level. We made sure to go over all of the information about what changed, so that there wouldn’t be any surprises. While specific placements of traps and the layout changed constantly, the capabilities of the monsters never did.