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I tried all 9 single-rune spells, and they all "fizzle" or it says I don't have enough skill to cast them. I am assuming that the single-rune spells are the simplest, low-level spells.

So my question is, how can I improve my magic skill when I can't even cast spells?

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Your mage needs to have some talent points in the various spell trees, I think. –  Shadur Mar 9 '13 at 14:26
    
And in order to get skill points you have to level up, right? So how am I supposed to level up without casting spells? –  Daniel Mar 9 '13 at 14:53
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3 Answers

In order to cast spells, you need skill points allocated to the spell trees. I believe you can allocate some basic points at character creation, and at level up. The most basic spell is in the Fire tree, and you get it after only 2 skill points in this skill.

Your magic is only going to get you so far in some of the longer fights, so being without magic is not all that unusual for a mage. If you can't cast spells and you don't want to reroll, you can always use back row attacks, like throwing rocks, using a bow, or using the reach weapon, this spear.

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Since I was only on the second dungeon, I decided to start over and I redesigned all of my characters. Instead of evenly distributing my skill points, I concentrated them in fire and earth magic for the mage, so I could cast the basic flame and poison cloud spells from the start. But I will also try your suggestion of using other ranged attacks with the mage to earn more XP. –  Daniel Mar 9 '13 at 18:56
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Runes don't stand for individual spells. Those are just buttons you need to press as a code to activate spells (with some only requiring 1 rune and the largest combos needing 4 runes)

In order to be able to USE certain combinations of runes, you need to have trained the appropriate skill high enough. For example, the Air school has one spell that unlocks when it's skill is at 4, and another at 9. (Note that there is a panel on the right side of the page that links to all the other schools)

Yep, that's pretty much it: Knowing the combination and having a skill high enough to use it. You can find the combinations on scrolls you happen to come across while exploring Grimrock.

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One thumb down with nobody saying "why"? Mean1 –  user1337 Apr 29 '13 at 0:33
    
It was downvoted because it is incorrect. Firstly, the Fire, Air, and Earth schools of magic all have spells that only use a single rune, so that is incorrect. Second, your link goes to ice magic spells only, not the "complete collection of spells". –  Jon Quarfoth May 10 '13 at 21:24
    
@JonQuarfoth Thanks for the answer to that. Sorry I missed the 1-rune spells. Still, I am wondering if you saw the panel to the right with a large title saying "Spells" and the name of each school of magic. (wonder what that does) –  user1337 May 17 '13 at 22:43
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To add to what agent86 said, all party members earn experience as the game progresses, it’s just that character only gets half if they did not help with the kill. Even modest contribution, such as throwing stones and other methods already mentioned, goes a long way of helping the mage level up faster.

In my play through, it took several levels to get the sorcerer to some sort of useful state, and after learning area attack spells, which allow mages to get full experience for the group of creatures, they become one of the top earners.

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