Research:Old Bellicus' Brazen Knuckles
Bonuses in relevant skills vs. duration:
This was without fighting anything while it was in effect, although I'm not sure that matters.
Poncho's old research used to be available on his website, but it went down recently. I'm formatting and pasting the research here just in case it doesn't get put back up.
In the ongoing pursuit of power, or just the pursuit of necessary skills to 'cast that badass new spell', every Wizard young or old requires the necessary means to exterminate lesser, and even greater, mortals. While both Wizard and Warrior, and even Wizard Warriors, and perhaps Warrior Wizards, have argued, often ruefully, over this topic and precisely how that ought best be done (be it with sharp pointy objects and subtle steps of the feet, or balls of molten fire and a good, excessive measure of pure magical defences), one thing is certain: No feature makes for a better blend of magic and melee for the magicly inclined Wizard wanting to do some hurtin' than OBBK. Offensive
First off is the skill requirements and necessary experience you'll need to get all this going. Take note: Bonuses are suggested starting bonuses only and for the spell methods should be adequate to cast the spell effectively. However more attention can be spent on raising these bonuses (particularly ma.sp.off) to increase spell potential. Also note that xp costs are based on the best available teaching bonuses on the disc and are subject to variation depending on how you advance the necessary skills.
In order to use OBBK you will need to advance a bare minimum of four methods, magic.spells.offensive, and preferably two fighting skills- fighting.unarmed.striking, and one of the fighting.defence.* skills. Below is a list of the skills, bonuses, and xp requirements. For the purpose of this I have gone with fi.de.parry as the favoured melee defence. More on why later. Also note that these numbers are based on the assumption the Wizard in question has not yet rearranged, and all stats are at the base value of 13. Altering your stats may make the xp requirements either cheaper, or more expensive. Finally, you'll notice two seperate xp costs. The first is for Circle Wizards who have all spell methods as primaries, and therefore have the cheapest overall costs. The second is for Stars who share the lowest value of primaries as methods. This will give you the range of overall experience costs you'll have to work with.
|ma.me.ph.evoking||220||438,779 / 3,274,497|
|ma.me.ph.bi||210||304,124 / 304,124|
|ma.me.ph.ea||230||633,683 / 4,431,301|
|ma.me.ph.fi||190||118,066 / 1,035,171|
|ma.sp.of||306||4,738,146 / 4,738,146|
|fi.un.st||250||7,365,558 / 7,365,558|
|fi.de.parry||200||1,553,091 / 1,553,091|
Total xp 15,151,447 / 22,701,888
As you can see Order choice has a dramatic impact on overall initial experience costs (as with any spell). This may or may not factor into your choice of order, but is hardly necessary in the grand scheme of things.
Striking & ma.sp.offensive
Striking and Offensive play a crucial role in the use of OBBK. Your Striking bonus, like with melee weapons, governs your ability to land hits, the speed with which you attack, and the damage you deal with each successful strike. OBBK's use relies on these factors still mostly with regards to the first two points noted, which is where Offensive comes into play. Your ma.sp.offensive bonus (in conjunction with your spell methods) governs OBBK's duration, and additional magical damage output. However for OBBK to reach it's maximum potential not only does your offensive bonus need to be adequate, but your strikes need to be 'true'. Fortunately the nature of unarmed fighting is such that with very little skill you can land blows quite easily against many opponents as the speed and weightlessness of the bare fists is an easy 'weapon' to wield. Which is why, for a Wizard just starting out, striking with the added benefits of OBBK is a prime method to employ for hunting. With a 250 bonus in striking you should be able to take down most basic to moderate Ankh Morpork NPC's in a few brief rounds.
Depending on your unique circumstances, OBBK can be used in conjunction with absolutly any defensive options. Everything from TPA and EFF, to Parry, Block, and Dodge. Like with any hunting related dangers it is always best to make the most of everything available to you. TPA is a must for any Wizard no matter what he's doing, and thanks to the fast and easy nature of unarmed fighting, an EFF will work perfectly fine for you so long as you dont overwhelm yourself with opponents.Really though to get the most out of the melee nature of OBBK, you're going to want to invest in some accompanying melee defence. So here I will give you something to think about.
For many Warrior-Wizard with a dex based rearrange and a set of shiny daggers to boot, Dodge is, how they say, 'where it's at'. Dodge for the magic user has it's own special advantage, and if you've got the burden to spare (which is much easier with free hands), it could work wonders for you. In use with OBBK, both hands are free for maximum attacks per round, you wont have to worry about taking damage parrying the attacks of sharp weapons, and most importantly the biggest perk to a dodging Wizard, you'll find you'll be able to spend time dodging attacks if you should so happen to decide to cast a spell mid combat.
The obvious downside would have to do with any desire to want to lug around large quantites of brass rings. They take up space and add burden, which is the one thing a dodge user does not want. However over time this can be rectified with the use of a sack and a cloud with the use of FNP.
Arguably the better option, Parry has its advantages in branching versatility. You can parry unarmed, and should you want to pick up a melee weapon in the future you can still parry then too. Parry can also be used to defend others should the need arise which is a nice perk over Dodge. Parry also isnt so burden dependant like with Dodge.
The downside is that since the unarmed fist has no relative weight, you will take a penalty when parrying any weapon with weight behind it. The other downside is that parrying sharp weapons while unarmed will cause you to take a little bit of damage. Over time this damage can build up fairly quickly if you're not careful, so that's something to bare in mind.
For many, Block is the more unorthodox choice when it comes to a melee defence. For PlayerKillers, a shield is a liability than can be stolen. For NPK's, if the other options arnt more appealing for the perks, versatility, or just sheer style, block can be seen as a waste of burden given the relative weights of a shield and the extra penalty applied when holding such a thing in your hands. So why then would OBBK benefit from the use of a shield?
Block is actually an impressive option to consider for the OBBK enthusiast. Like with Parry you have the option of defending others should you desire, but unlike Parry, when defending unarmed you wont necessarily suffer it's negative aspects. Since you're not parrying sharp objects unarmed you wont suffer the duress of that extra damage, and depending on the weight of the shield you're weilding you can counteract the penalty suffered when defending against heavier weapons. Considering the bulk of NPC's on the disc use things from unarmed, to daggers, to swords and lighter one handed weapons, you can put your defence on par with the bulk of NPC's with something as simple as a light leather shield should you need. That weighs in at a whopping 2lbs. Should you need or want something heavier there are many more shields up the scale, a small metal being a favored of many warrior block users, weighing in at 10 lbs. The small leather fares a lot of use before durability becomes an issue, and is also NES friendly (unlike many weapons). As an added bonus having your shield in hand means it's always out for use with TPA, meaning an extra round spared putting it away after casting.
The trade-off is in the consumed hand meaning the extra attack each round will require a heavier striking bonus, and/or a tactics setting of offensive. Overall though the demands of unarmed are so relaxed that they easily offset any encumbrance a shield might bring. For once, Block is a prime candidate in conjunction with a striking melee option, on account of the damage output OBBK provides.
OBBK has a cheap and easily obtainable consumable component. Brass rings can be obtained from four store locations. The Northwest corner of the Divine Flower marketplace, Bes Pelargic- that's just above Tuna Walk in the south west corner of BP. Two separate jewellery stores in Sto Lat, and finally Rendtnor's on the North-east side of the Plaza of Broken Moons, Ankh-Moroprk. Being that Rendtnor's is so close to the UU, and has on its doorstep The Plaza, Cham, and Sator Square (often teeming with NPC's), this makes it a great location for young Wizards wanting to get their OBBK on. Rendtnor's can have up to 13 brass rings in stock at a time, BP has the most with just over 30, while the Sto stores have under 10. Considering the respawn time on this item that means there should always be plenty of components available for you to collect. Brass rings costs 4 pence each.
Duration and Augmenting Ring Use
From what I can tell, duration of OBBK is skill based up to a maximum time limit, with quantity of brass rings able to augment this duration . What that means is that with sufficient skills a caster can use anywhere from one to five brass rings to obtain a maximum spell duration of 13-14 minutes. For a weaker Wizard with lesser skills, a five ring cast ('cast OBBK using five brass rings') will get him maximum duration. Meanwhile with increased skills (presumably Offensive in particular) the same duration can be achieved with only two brass rings. It is therefore theoretically possible to get maximum duration with only one ring but I have no idea how much bonus would be required to do that.
Double Casting (The danger)
Casting OBBK while a previous cast is still in effect will result in adverse effects. Stacking casts will cause you to take direct damage with the damage increasing with the more rings stacked. A cast using a single brass ring on top of another single brass ring cast will deal minor damage (point subject to testing). While a five ring cast on top of another five ring cast will deal considerable damage- upward of two thousand. If the damage exceeds that of your hit points you will turn to a brass statue, and therefore die. Additionally, adding more rings from a subsequent cast of OBBK on top of a five ring cast will cause the entire length of your arms to turn to brass (further testing on ring numbers and double castings required). In this instance, any parry damage you take from opponents who you fail to strike will cause that damage to be multiplied dramatically. Up to ten times more damaging. Which means if you are parried by a target that normally does 100 damage when parrying you when unarmed, he will be dealing 1000 points of damage instead. To further exasperate the issue the duration of this negative effect is unknown except to say it's "long", or considerably longer than a single cast (13-14 mins) or even that doubled (over a half hour, and even an hour). It's possible the effect is permanent until death. Further testing is required.
Unarmed Parry Damage
One thing an unarmed fighter needs to take into consideration is the damage inflicted upon them when being parried. Over the course of a long battle, or if fighting an opponent with considerably more parry defence than the player can overcome, you will inevitably lose hit points even if your opponent isn't landing blows. For this reason using OBBK requires you to pay attention to your hit points, and may require some form of hp regeneration between battle. Healing tea is one option, though bandage is perhaps better thanks to the readily available components, which are also free, and can be used in conjunction with a component point (help bandage). As a side- it requires a low bonus to start using, tm's very well, and with a 1 dex, 2 int, 2 wis stat make-up suits the Wizards favoured stats very nicely.
I didnt add it in to the necessary methods because, frankly, its not necessary at a beginners level. However at some point it would be a good idea to invest some experience into fighting.special.tactics to better improve your fighting capabilities. Especially when moving to groups of NPC's, or just harder NPC's in general.