This is a guide written for Paradox Mages in ToME4, v1.0.0. Paradox Mages are specialist spellcasters, possessing neither the defensive abilities of Archmages, nor the terrifying offensive powers of Corruptors, but instead making up for it with mobility and debuffs to slowly whittle down foes. For more information about their playstyle, you can refer to the wiki
.Paradox and You
As implied by their name, Paradox Mages utilize Paradox as their resource. As a resource, Paradox is similar to Equilibrium. You start low, and build up Paradox as you use your talents. As your Paradox gets higher, you start to develop a failure rate on all Chronomancy talents. The difference is that high Paradox also has numerous other effects: some of your Chronomancy talents get stronger, they all generate more Paradox, and most interestingly, you can have anomalies and backfires. Anomalies are strange, random effects that are mostly a little bad, but reduce your Paradox. Backfires result in you hitting yourself with your own spell. Paradox sustains put a floor on your Paradox rather than reducing from a pool like stamina or mana. Fatigue doesn't increase your talent costs; instead it multiplies your failure rate by a small factor. This is not as bad as it sounds, so heavy armor is an option. The bottom line is that you want your failure rate to be as low as possible, and getting to the point of backfires and anomalies is unacceptable in any serious battle. As a result, high Paradox is generally a bad thing, even though it does power up your spells. Like Equilibrium, increasing your Willpower will increase the amount of Paradox you need to have before you start experiencing failures, anomalies, and backfires, making Willpower an important stat, along with Magic and Constitution.Race Selection
When choosing a race, one must keep in mind that Paradox Mages have the lowest possible life rating, -4 life per level. This means that you really do not want to choose a race with a low life rating, so let's only look at the ones with over 10 life per level.
Higher: Their regeneration ability scales with Willpower, one of your primary stats, but conflicts with the Paradox Mage's heal spell, Body Reversion. Their tier 2 and 3 talents are no good for Paradox Mages, and their tier 4 is not really necessary. Not a good choice.
Thalore: Their tier 1 also scales with Willpower, and it conflicts with Body Reversion but only lasts 5 turns anyway. The extra resist all plays nicely with Fade From Time, disease immunity is helpful in a few places, and lastly the treant summons. Oh, the treant summons. Being such a fragile class, the tanky treant summons are a godsend, and will come out with 70% resist all if you use them with Fade From Time. Also, if you stack +physical damage for a Gravity build, your treant summons will also inherit that, boosting their damage further. The only problem is that they'll likely get hit by your status effects at some point, but with maxed out resistances with Fade From Time, you'll barely scratch them. An excellent race.
Halfling: They have great racials but they all overlap with what Paradox Mages can already do, without shoring up their weaknesses. Duck and Dodge negates melee damage, but Paradox Mages already have the tools to trivialize melee damage. Indomitable cures a handful of physical status effects, but Paradox Mages already have Body Reversion. A poor choice.
Dwarf: The armor from their tier 1 and 2, combined with Carbon Spikes, can make for a very heavily armored Paradox Mage, should you choose to go the heavy armor route. Power is Money can be stacked with Spin Fate, and Stonewalking is even better when you can Dimensional Step to a wall instantly at any time. Another good choice.
Ghoul: The main weakness of a Ghoul, their speed penalty, is covered by the Speed Control tree. Meanwhile, their greatest strength, the monstrous 14 life rating per level, shores up a Paradox Mage's greatest weakness. A surprisingly good choice, despite only having one worthwhile racial, Retch.
Skeleton: No notable synergies. Not bad, but not great either.Talent Overview
Class TalentsAge Manipulation
Turn Back the Clock: One of the five, low-cooldown damage spells available to you. You should invest in at least 2, but preferably more, in order to always be ready with a useful spell. Turn Back the Clock is notable for its slow projectile speed, and for being really bad until talent level 4. Also, it is slightly bugged, so that occasionally one of the two bolts will pass through a target harmlessly. It redeems itself by having the second highest single target damage, and applying a minor stat debuff.
Temporal Fugue: At 5/5, it has 50% confuse power and lasts for 7 turns, with a cooldown of 14 turns, making it very good for crippling a large crowd. One thing to note about confusion is that very few things are immune to it, unlike stun to which pretty much every lategame boss and their mother is immune.
Ashes to Ashes: Deals heavy damage over time to everything around you. Benefits greatly from talent points, as both its radius and duration increase. However, the radius never gets very high, making this more of a close-range talent. If your strategy relies heavily on sniping things from afar, it will be hard to leverage Ashes to Ashes to its full potential.
Body Reversion: A heal and physical wild infusion all in one, which is quite useful. The problem is that it also removes beneficial physical effects, so you'll have to plan around that. Keep in mind that regeneration from infusions are physical effects, so you may want to use healing infusions instead. In the early game, since your max hp will be quite low compared to how much Body Reversion can heal, be sure not to level it higher than you need to for it to be a full heal. Also, since Body Reversion is a heal, it can't be used while frozen, so you won't be able to use it to cure freeze like you could with a physical wild. It's also not instant, so getting stunned might put it on cooldown. In the end, you still probably want to get as much stun immunity as you can.Gravity
Repulsion Blast: One of the five low-cooldown damage spells available to you. Only has range 6, as opposed to range 10 for the others, and it also has the lowest damage when used against a target that isn't pinned. Against pinned targets, its single target damage is still only middling. Also, it deals physical damage, and later on, it will be much easier to stack a lot of +temporal damage than +physical, so its damage will lag even more. However, its cone shape makes it good for dealing with crowds, its knockback protects you from melee damage, and sometimes it can hit twice, which makes up for the fact that it's physical and not temporal damage.
Gravity Spike: A relatively low-cooldown spell that does damage in a ball, and can be used to manipulate the enemy's position in various ways. Like the other gravity spells, the damage is pretty poor against targets that are not pinned.
Repulsion Field: Quite similar to Ashes to Ashes, but with a lot less damage against enemies that are not pinned, and a little less damage against enemies that are pinned. However, it protects you from melee enemies even better than Repulsion Blast, and it can also hit twice.
Gravity Well: This is the reason the Gravity tree isn't terrible. Great damage at a huge range, completely negating melee attackers and bringing up the damage of your Gravity spells from poor to decent. Even against ranged attackers, you can drop this, duck around a corner, and rest assured that they'll be eating its full damage while you hide in safety. One potential problem with Gravity Well is that it limits your own mobility, since you don't want to step into your own Well. With careful placement, this should not be an issue.Matter
Dust to Dust: One of the five low-cooldown damage spells available to you. This one is about as standard as it gets, except that half of its damage is physical. It's a beam, which is nice. Also, it has cooldown 3 instead of 4, like all of your other spammable spells, making this one even more spammable.
Carbon Spikes: One of the three sustains you can get. It only helps for when you get hit by weapons, so if you're using a long-range style then this will only help against archers. Also, with additional Armor Hardiness, you can only block up to 30% of damage no matter how high your armor gets. Note that 30% is still pretty decent though, and a heavy armor Paradox Mage build leveraging Carbon Spikes is not unheard of.
Destabilize: Decent, but not great damage over time. The explosion can hit you too, so you need to watch out for that if you're using continuum destabilization in conjunction with Destabilize. Serves as a setup for Quantum Spike, but continuum destabilazation is better for that.
Quantum Spike: One of the five low-cooldown damage spells available to you. This one has more than triple the Paradox cost of the others, and only hits a single target. If you want to use Quantum Spike, you better be ready to deal with all the Paradox buildup. In addition, like Dust to Dust, half of its damage is physical. However, it has the highest damage even without setting up destabilization beforehand, and with the proper setup, its single-target damage is just flat out monstrous. The insta-kill aspect is nice, but keep in mind that most (all?) bosses are immune to insta-kill.Speed Control
Celerity: Helps you kite things a little better, and dodging projectiles requires less time. The instant weapon switch can be used to put weapons with useful active abilities in your off-set, essentially giving you an extra talent. Early game you'll have better things to spend your points on, but it can be a decent dump lategame.
Stop: A nice AoE stun.that also deals a little damage. Worth maxing but not necessary. Get at least 1 point early on, however.
Slow: It's like Gravity Well, which is saying something. Its damage, duration, and slow all scale with talent levels, so it benefits greatly from being maxed. Less damage than Gravity Well, but it's pure temporal and it lasts longer. Slow is obviously not as good at negating melee enemies as pin, but it is better at subduing ranged enemies, and there is no slow immunity, which means it'll work on more things than pin.
Haste: A nice speed boost, allowing you to dump your spells faster at the beginning of a fight. Also, when combined with max Celerity or a movement infusion, you can leave behind an army of afterimages to help you escape. Not necessary in the early game, especially when you're limited by cooldown anyway.Time Travel
Static History: This is your main tool for managing Paradox in-combat. Use it whenever you've built up enough Paradox for it not to be a waste. Do NOT wait until your Paradox is stupidly high. The thing about managing Paradox that's different from, say, mana, is that it allows you to be irresponsible and keep going even when you should stop. When your mana is too low, you cannot cast anymore. When your Paradox is too high, you can cast but you might kill yourself, meaning you effectively cannot cast. DON'T take the chance unless you don't care about dying. This is the one mistake that people always make, and then complain about later. Be a responsible Chronomancer; clean up the timeline when you're done using it! That said, you don't have to max Static History right away, but level it whenever you see that your failure rate has gone up above 3 or 4% at the end of a fight, despite using Static History responsibly.
Time Skip: Decent damage, low cooldown, good for giving yourself a breather so that your other talents can cooldown. Annoying to use against weak enemies, because if you don't kill them with it, you'll have to wait for them to return to the timeline. Sets up continuum destabilization for 100 turns, boosting Quantum Spike damage and obsoleting Destabilize.
Echoes from the Past: Starts with a tiny range, but can get pretty decently high. Damage is pretty weak to start with, but then becomes one of your most damaging spells against lategame bosses. When your other spells are doing one or two thousand damage, Echoes from the Past will be doing like six thousand damage.
Temporal Reprieve: Pretty bad early on, but can be a decent place to dump class points in the lategame. Energy Absorption is generally more useful for managing cooldowns, but the nice thing about Temporal Reprieve is that it affects inscriptions too.Timeline Threading (locked)
Gather the Threads: Acts sort of as a second Static History of sorts, with half the cooldown but requiring five turns of not casting spells in order to get the full benefit. In exchange, you get a massive burst of spellpower when you do cast a spell. This can also be used to cheat your sustains which run off of spellpower: turn your sustains off, use Gather the Threads, then wait until it reaches its peak. Turn your sustain back on, and it'll be using your boosted spellpower until you quit the game, or add/remove class points. It's sort of cheaty though, and a pain to remember to do all the time.
Rethread: One of the five low-cooldown damage spells available to you. Has the lowest damage bar non-pinned Repulsion Blast, but it practically pays for its own Paradox cost, and applies a random status effect, all of which are useful. You can keep an enemy almost permanently crippled with just Rethread alone. Also benefits from being a beam, that does pure temporal damage.
Temporal Clone: This is amazing against rares, elites, and uniques (such as adventurers), but doesn't work on bosses. Great at 1/5, and you can level it more to remove the size penalty/increase the duration, but most rares/elites will be normal sized.
See the Threads: Not really useful in an actual fight. The true use of See the Threads is for cheating. That's right, cheating. Use it right before killing a boss to get your choice of three different artifacts. If you're really dedicated, you can get an infinite number of tries for an artifact that you want in the following manner: get a boss to low health, use See the Threads, kill it for the first two threads, and if you don't like either of those drops, run away for the last thread. Come back when when See the Threads has cooled down, then repeat until you get a drop you like. This is pretty boring to do, but using it just once to triple your chances of getting a useful artifact isn't too bad. Perfectly serviceable at 1/5, and further points are mostly wasted.Paradox (locked)
Paradox Mastery: Effectively increases your maximum Paradox. I've admittedly never played a Paradox Mage without 5/5 Paradox Mastery, so I couldn't tell you how necessary it is.
Cease to Exist: Doubles as a weird sort of insta-kill against weaker enemies, and a potent debuff to lower all resistances. -30% resist all is only 30% extra damage against enemies with 0% resist all, but it's 100% extra damage against enemies with 70% resist all. And some lategame bosses have really high resistances, so Cease to Exist gets really good in those situations.
Fade From Time: A weird defensive buff which gives you a very large amount of resist all, and a moderate damage penalty. -20% damage actually isn't that bad when you're already sporting +80% damage, which is quite doable in the lategame. However, the bonus from Fade From Time is proportional to how many turns you have remaining, so as it ends it peters out into nothing. Still good for absorbing the first hits when you know you're going to take a lot of damage. The effect reduction is nice too, I guess, but it's no substitute for stun/confuse immunity.
Paradox Clone: Creates an exact copy of yourself for X turns. Around 15-30 turns later, you're brought back in time to when you used Paradox Clone. That lasts for X turns, then you go BACK TO THE FUTURE to before you were brought back in time to when you used Paradox Clone. Confusing? Well that's what happens when you summon a future version of yourself. Basically, think of it as summoning an exact, albeit AI-controlled copy of you for X turns, then being forced to survive the exact same situation one more time later on. The thing is, surviving the second time is actually really easy, and it doesn't ever matter if your other self dies-- as long as you, or at least the you that you're controlling-- survives, you're fine. That means that you can always just teleport away, leaving your other self to die while you save your own skin, making Paradox Clone's drawback quite trivial. As for the actual effectiveness of Paradox Clone, that depends on your build. The AI-controlled you is not very smart, and if you have a lot of spells at 1/5 that you never use, your clone will probably waste time using them. Also, because your clone depends on cooldowns just like you, each additional turn that you get from leveling Paradox Clone has slightly less value, since there's a chance that they already dropped your good spells. Also, Paradox Clone prevents you from splitting the timeline for 15-30 turns, so it is mutually exclusive with Cease to Exist and See the Threads (and Precognition but who cares about that). Despite all the confusion, the bottom line is that Paradox Clone is really really good for damage and for chaining more status effects when your own talents are on cooldown.
Precognition: Like Arcane Eye, it's used for scouting. Also like Arcane Eye, theoretically it's optimal to use to scout everything all the time, but practically it's too tedious to actually bother, and you'll only use it for scouting critical stuff, like Ambush! maps or vaults. Not used for combat.
Foresight: Mapping, ESP, and trap detection all in one. Still useless if you forget to actually use Precognition, or if you're just lazy like me.
Moment of Prescience: Pretty much useless for Paradox Mages. You might think you could use it to spot invisible/stealthed guys, but your spells hit invisible things anyway, and you can just look at the floating damage numbers over Ashes to Ashes/ Gravity Well/ Slow if you want to see where invis/stealthed guys are hiding.
Spin Fate: This used to be really good, and now is only useful if you're specifically stacking saves (ie, you're a dwarf). If you do want to make use of it though, you want to get it to 5/5 or else it'll just never stack with itself.Energy
Energy Decomposition: Armor for everything except physical and mind damage! You definitely want this, although you don't have to max it right away. If you've used Antimagic Shield, this is sort of what it feels like.
Entropic Field: Resistance against everything that Energy Decomposition doesn't cover! This usually ends up being mostly weapon damage, which means it overlaps a bit with Carbon Spikes. Since running all three sustains is taxing on your Paradox until lategame, I would recommend only taking either this or Carbon Spikes. Unlike Carbon Spikes, this one has a use beyond just weapon damage: physical damage spells and projectiles. Slowing projectiles means you get more chances to move out of the way. Usually, dodging a projectile just means eating a different attack while not doing any damage of your own, but with Celerity or Dimensional Step, you can move out of the way and still use your turn for attack.
Energy Absorption: Absolutely crippling against enemies with a few deadly or annoying talents, mostly spellcasters. Later on, the most dangerous enemies have so many talents that disrupting a few of them doesn't really faze them, but even then it's good for managing your own cooldowns. I'd get 5/5 as soon as possible.
Redux: Repeat your next spell. Sounds better than it is. You can't stack Cease to Exist, or Paradox Clones (because of timeline splitting), two Slows or Gravity Wells only double the damage but not the status effect, two Temporal Fugues confuse exactly as much as one Temporal Fugue, etc etc. Still pretty good with Energy Absorption, Static History, or Dimensional Step. When you cast a spell after Redux, that's taking two turns in one, which puts you at risk for a big burst of damage.Spacetime Weaving
Dimensional Step: A perfectly controlled, instant phase door, but only within line of sight. Still one of the best escape abilities in the game, due to being instant cast, especially with Redux. The cooldown can be lowered to 5 with 5/5 Spacetime Mastery, allowing you to teleport all over the place. Sometimes you'll find equipment that gives you nice bonuses when you teleport, and those last 6 turns. This means that with 5/5 Spacetime Mastery, you can have those effects up permanently. In particular there is a staff ego that does this, voidwalker's I believe it is called. But what if you want to use a different staff? Just keep the voidwalker's staff in your off-slot, and instantly switch to it with Celerity before doing your instant Dimensional Step, then instantly swap back.
Banish: Scatters enemies, and gives them continuum destabilization for 100 turns, boosting Quantum Spike. Not bad, but it can be kind of annoying to hunt down all the scattered monsters.
Wormhole: Has the advantage of having a longer range than Dimensional Step, but it uses a turn to cast and has double the cooldown. Basically just gives you a second escape tool. Get it to at least 4/5 if you're planning on relying on it.
Spacetime Mastery: Discussed along with Dimensional Step. Get 5/5 as soon as you can if only for the sweet 5 turn cooldown reduction on Dimensional Step.Survival
Not as useless as it once was thanks to Charm Mastery, but still probably not worth spending a category point on.Strategy
1-10: First thing, set Spacetime Tuning on "auto-use when no enemies are visible". You now recover Paradox while resting. Spell damage is rather high to begin with, so just put points into a few damage spells (such as Dust to Dust and Turn Back the Clock) and just blast everything. Your max health will be low, so keep an eye out for equipment that boosts your max health, and prioritize those. For stats, pump Magic, Willpower in order to meet stat requirements for your talents, and put as much into Constitution as possible. Don't get Carbon Spikes or Entropic Field yet; the sustain costs are too high at this stage.
11-20: You have Body Reversion now, but don't drop your starting physical wild infusion quite yet, because half of the bosses in this level range have Freeze, which Body Reversion can't cure. More +life equipment and Constitution whenever you can. You should be getting 5/5 Dimensional Step and Spacetime Mastery soon. Learn to use them to escape from dangerous situations. Maybe think about getting either Carbon Spikes or Energy Field, if you haven't been having any problems with Paradox management, but not both. Your low-cooldown damage spells should have around 4 points by now, and you can start working more seriously on status effects.
21-30: Oozing horrors can kill you with their strangling hold, so make liberal use of Precognition while exploring the Lake of Nur, then either avoid the oozing horrors or kill them while staying out of reach of their tentacle grab. By the time you enter Dreadfell, you definitely want a mental wild infusion unless you're undead. If you get stunned, at least you can Dimensional Step away. If you get silenced, however, there is nothing you can do unless you have a mental wild, or the Wintertide Phial. Not to mention it helps against confusion from wights and burning hex from dreads.
31-40: You start finding some really good artifacts around this level range. One that stands out is the Temporal Augmentation Robe, which boosts temporal damage by a whopping 20% on top of some other very nice bonuses. If you went for the Gravity tree you're not going to benefit as much. If you're going with mixed temporal and physical damage, use a staff with the "greater" ego to boost both of your damage types. Level up a third or fourth damage spell, if it tickles your fancy. You can probably handle adding on the third sustain, but you likely don't need it either.
41-50: You won't need this guide anymore at this range. The only thing to really watch out for are Champions of Urh'Rok with their Spell Feedback. Use damage-over-time spells like Ashes to Ashes, Slow, Gravity Well to damage them without triggering Spell Feedback. Temporal Clone can be a fancy alternative if you've leveled it up.Prodigies
There are currently no prodigies that are especially good for Paradox Mages, so I'll just talk about the ones that sound good but are actually really bad.
Revisionist History: This is just a compromise between Precognition and See the Threads. You already have much better ways to split the timeline.
Temporal Form: The added 600 paradox will inevitably murder you when you try to cast something. For some reason, the very mages who bend time to their will also happen to make the absolute worst time elementals. (DG says this will be better in future versions, so this advice only applies to 1.0.0.)
Endless Woes: Wow, a 30% slow on temporal damage! Too bad Slow, the spell, slows by way more than that, at a 100% chance. And they both use the "slow" effect, so they don't stack.