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Might and Magic IX
Lady Dragon the Image Weaver
by Lady Dragon
5th of July, 2002
Greetings, the brave adventurer!
This guide will help you at the beginning of the game up to the first promotion of your characters. It will give you advice how to speed your raising up in experience. It will show you which fightings you can easily avoid at the start. With its help you'll be able to accumulate the funds for your future expenses and relieve the shortage of money.
From up there you will be able to handle everything by yourself you'll become so strong, powerful and wealthy with my help! :) 
Good luck and bon voyage!
Choosing the Party
Since this section is devoted for helping the player to pass the initial stages of the game with four magic-side characters (specifically, Druid, Priest, Mage and Lich), make all of the characters in your party Initiates, because:
Initiate:  Healer   Druid  or Priest
           Scholar  Mage  or  Lich

Also, I advise to pick out all of the races as starting characters:
Human, Elf, Dwarf and Half-Orc
This is because it would make your party more balanced and far easier to handle with, than, for example, all the characters in the party would have been Dwarfs or Half-Orcs.

The reason for this is because Dwarves are slow, but have a lot of hit points,  their 'magic' attribute is also weak in comparison to the other classes, like Elf or Human.
The Half-Orc is nearly the same as the Dwarf, but the accuracy of this race is even lower than the one of the Dwarf.
Why not take a party of Elves or Humans along? Because a party made up of all the races in the game will be far better balanced than anything else because:

~ The Dwarf and the Half-Orc will be more protective for the others because of the large amounts of hit points
~ The Human and Elf are better skilled in magic, thus protecting the rest of the party, always capable of casting one more spell that might save their lives.

So, it is Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Half-Orc picked as races for your characters.
Now it's skills.


Since all of the people in your party have Elemental and Spirit Magic picked already as the skills obligatory, I suggest taking Bow and Cudgel for all of them, because the Bow skill is necessary in the following steps, and without Cudgel you will have to spend a lot of precious time and money searching for this skill in all of the skill shops throughout Chedian (And I must say that it is really, really hard to find when you're actually looking for it).

Of course, should you take some other skill as a second one for other members of the party, it could be either easier or heavier, depending on the skill that you have picked. For the alternatives, I suggest Meditation, Learning, or Perception.
Don't take Disarm Trap or Identify Item, though. In the next part, you'll understand why.


Skills are picked, and now it is for attributes.
Take Accuracy and Speed up to 15. Whatever is left (1 or 2 points, depending on race), spend it on Magic.
If there is not enough (must be Dwarf or Half-Orc that is making a fuss of themselves), then lessen their Might or Endurance attributes. They won't die from it, really.

And pick the faces for your characters that you really like. You'll be stuck with them for a long time in the game (until one of them becomes Lich, of course).
The same applies for names and voices. :)
This is your hometown, actually. And you're definitely saying goodbye to it, judging by the several phrases thrown around by the townsfolk.
Speak to the old man, saying that you would like to start your training.
After you've finished talking to him, gather all the scrolls around yourself (they're lying on the tables). Some of these are instruction notes, and others are spell scrolls which you can sell, if you like.
But I would advise you to hang on to those attacking spells (there should be Lightning and Sparks among them). They might save your life in a tricky battle.
Speak to the old man again, finishing your training. Upon the end of this rather short conversation you will receive the skills of Identify Item and Disarm Trap. These are certainly valuable  teach them to your party (preferably one person, who will do all the disarming, selling and buying). 
Then sell all the needless stuff in the shop across the street from the Tavern, and arm yourself.
Put Elemental Bolt on Quick Spell - you'll need it.
HINT: Don't put all your 'Cure Wounds' potions in one place. This is because you can't trade between characters when in battle (for the computer it means that your gem is red).
Every character must have his/her own bottle of mana and life restoration handy.
Have you equipped your bows and cudgels? (Maces, to be more accurate). Did you learn your spells? Yes? You're ready to depart, then.
Go out through the city gates, and head for the ship in the end of the left passage. There will be three or four monsters in your way, but you can easily kill them with your magic.
HINT: Don't use 'Turn-Based Mode' in battles that are with small creatures or with flying creatures (with the exception of Aberrations and Oddities). It is far more comfortable and faster without this mode.

Good voyaging!
Isle of Ashes
Oops... What was to be a nice holiday across this giant sea, heading for Mendossus had just become a shipwrecked crew on a deserted island, where the Great Cataclysm itself had its origins, it was caused by Verhoffin.
Well, let's exploit the chance, and get some experience and gold!

Turn around, and get that chest that is standing behind you, near the water on the rocky shore. You can see your wrecked ship from here, and, no doubt, a sea monster jumping out from the water around it.
Don't try to avenge your cargo's death by shooting at the monster - it never works...

Kill all those pesky Bone Thrashers (be sure to wait for those sacks with the money), and continue onwards.
Speak to Forrad Darre near the second bridge, and continue through the right passage, finally arriving to Yrsa's home (after a few fights, of course).
She'll ask you to kill the Dragonflies that have made a nest for themselves right through the tunnel leading from the house.
Do this task, luring the 'flies out one by one. If you get hurt, heal yourself in the well behind Yrsa's house.

Get the chest that is on the grassy plain with the 'flies, and be on your way back to the old woman.
Some experience will be your reward.
Yrsa will ask you to save the world, and most importantly for you right now, speak again to Forrad Darre (the guy who you met before).
Do this  he will join your party (unfortunately, this is inevitable), and will tell you about a door nearby the Verhoffin Ruins.
Immediately, return to Yrsa the Troll. She will give you a Turret Key to unlock the door.

Journey on, following the second bridge and to the glum place called the Verhoffin Ruins.

Enter it, and go forward a few steps through a falling at you door (it won't hurt you, but try not to be taken under it! You're still a mortal).
You will see a chest in the corner, near the broken column's remains. Search through its contents (they are usually quite good for this time), and leave the Ruins.
Don't try to explore this dungeon any further  you will get killed by the first creature that you will encounter. This place is to be visited by you later on, so be patient.

Go to the left from the Ruins and go down to a locked door. You'll be attacked by three Bone Thrashers, but don't worry. You will kill them, even that big one.
Get the chest by the entrance, and touch the red book.
The country of the everlasting rain - the infamous Sturmford. Based in a swamp, Sturmford has only Drangheim as a neighbour, and the two are constant enemies, battling for the land without a break for the last 300 years when the land is actually quite a small island!

Well, this isn't a history lesson. The city is right in front of you, to the right. Bypass it, following the shore side to the right. You will encounter some Dragonflies, but that's it. Pick up the sacks left from them, and search through the bone piles. Sometimes, there are some nice items there.
After this, return to the point where you started from, and enter Sturmford City through the main gates.
Once inside, visit the tavern and talk to Bjarni Herjolfssen by the bar. He will give you a quest to find a saboteur in the city. This is a very easy quest  the reward for its completion is 500 gold.
This is the place where the saboteur is at, the Town Hall.

Talk to him, and then watch as he will start to run away from you, and will stay that way for quite some time. Then he will abruptly disappear in a flash of blinding teleport magic
Return to the tavern for your experience and gold, telling Bjarni Herjolfssen that they saboteur is a man going by the name of Randver the Storm.
It is a fine reward - now go to the Jarl's Longhouse, to speak with the Jarl himself, Bjarni Thordvalssen.
Also, don't forget to talk to him a second time - you will receive a quest for the Love Letter. As well, take your time to clean the altar in the central hall.

HINT: Search for these altars in every major town - Sturmford, Drangheim, Guberland, Thjorgard, Thronheim and Frosgard. These altars will function like beacons for your Town Portal spell (you will be able to choose your destination to that particular city - if you have cleaned the altar and your character is sufficiently skilled in magic to do this, of course).

Now, go on a sell-off quest. :) This is to be conducted in the second part of the town.
When reaching the centre with the well and all the children around it, take some special care to save the game and dive into that well.
Two sacks of gold are waiting for you down there, probably them being the wishing-pennies that the peasants were throwing in the well!
Find the chain and climb out of there, safe and unharmed.

In the same wet, forlorn condition, enter the shop nearby (the one with the cat lying on the book and the shop icon of a hat), and sell of all the items that are left from your voyage on the Isle of Ashes. You should get a good amount of money from this, but don't spend it just yet. There is a lot of things needed to be done before you could actually do this without any risk of remembering something that you absolutely have to do

Instead, go and train yourselves  this will help you to better stay alive in your next travels. You should be able to train to the 3rd level.
Speed to the city exit  nearby, in a house, there is a person living in there names Ludwig. He will ask you to retrieve his manuscript for a good reward. Since the manuscript fell down into the city sewers, Beet Hoven (and that is a nasty place), you don't really want to go there just yet.
Exit the city. Here, you might travel by boat to Drangheim, or go off to kill some Dragonflies. It is your choice, but don't go to kill those Thralls. You will defeat them, of course, but there is a steady chance that one of your characters might die.

Anyhow, anyway, it's off to Drangheim that we finally come! The ship sails there at all days except Monday and Wednesday. Those two days the ship is standing still for repairs or some other, sailory things.

Should you like, you could jump into the water and try to kill those Jellyfish. Beware, though. There are many in the sea, and they are very powerful right now for you.
But here is how:
Jump into the water, and swim away from the docks. Fairly soon, you will see to jellies - to the left and right, just enough away from each other to be alone.
Approach them so they can see you, and then swim as fast as you can (pressing 'X' usually helps for more speed on water) to the docks, where there is a small platform by the ship, unto which you can jump upon and be out of reach for those jellyfish.
Once safely on the ground, shoot them. It will take some time, but there is some substantial amounts of gold left from them (items too, sometimes) to pay for the long trouble of killing them.
Drangheim - the dreadful opponent of Sturmford for a small piece of territory.
This is home to a gang of Yobboes that are terrorizing the city, and a small village; this is also the place where the Chasm of the Dead is located, its veil of darkness and fear spreading over the country, carried by undead and it is also based in a swamp!

Well, mosquitoes or no mosquitoes, head on to the city! 
Visit the tavern and pay some special attention to a pair of arguing persons - a Dwarf, and a Human. There is an interesting outcome from their little conversation.
Don't forget to drink from the well.
Turn to the temple on your way, and pick up a quest from the man by the columns near the entrance inside.

Then, continue onwards to the Jarl's castle. It is a big place, you will notice it. It is on the second level of Drangheim City. (Not Kluso's House. The building next to it)
Clean the altar, and speak to the Jarl - Sigmund the Stressed. His apartments are upstairs from the main hall.
After you are finished, speak to him once again, and take the quest for some rumors.
The woman (Greudach A'Dorad) that is spreading these rumors is easy to find - she is standing on a hill in the back of the city.
When you will speak to her, she will tell you about a different person in Sturmford, Marsaili A'Lanth You need to speak to her to fulfill the quest. Afterwards, you just need to return to Jarl Sigmund and tell him the news.
Below the hill there is a guy standing, all alone by himself, with a letter lying nearby. He is Prince Nicolai, by the way.
Speak to him, and assure him that you will definitely find a job for him.
Before leaving outside, check the castle-house on the first level. There are two helpful barrels inside, with a content of +2 random attribute.

Now... outside. Run towards the Drangheim Prison (you will see it, a bit building marked on the map). Enter it, and speak to the guard. If you will be nice and say that
you are nice, you will get a Visitor's Pass. Use this to walk in the Drangheim Prison almost as you please. In the prison, there is General Ivsar Forktooth. You need to go to him through the secret passageway in the kitchen (in the cage with the cow). Talk to the cook (picking up a quest for his brother as well), and get into the cage, following the passage. After a couple of ladders, walks, and something else, you will reach a ladder that you can't climb up to. That's because you are standing right below an anvil... :)

To push it away, stare right up, and press Spacebar. The anvil will move away.
When you will leave this smithy, you will be in a passage. In its end, there will be a room with guards. Wait until they will leave into a hall below, and press the levers to open the cell doors. In one of those you will find General Ivsar, and the cook's brother.
Leave this place in any manner that you like.
When near the exit (the room where you were given the pass), the guards will attack you. But you should be strong enough if not to kill them, but to injure them and run through to the exit.
The General will wait for you outside, with some instructions of his own.

The ship leaves to Guberland at Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
There is lots of work needed to be done here. But all the important stuff begins in the City, so that is where you are supposed to be going.

Right on forward, there is the Jarl's House; near that a well that will give you some permanent statistic +5.
Speak to Jarl Markel "the Great" Gusmundssen. Then, by your "trademarked" way , speak to him again. He will give you a quest to get rid of the Dook (living in a castle nearby the City).

There is no altar here in the Longhouse, but here is a hint: it is close to the library with the aquarium. It is in a house.
HINT: About that aquarium As you might have noticed, there is a sea monster living in it.
If you would like to, you can kill the monster. It usually gives you some nice stuff. When I played, I received a Regal Belt (+9 Armor Class) with a special of +30 Accuracy. I know, this kind of stuff is really rare, but you might get it as well.

Here is how to do it:
Jump up at the aquarium, positioning yourself at the small wooden brink. Then jump into the aquarium itself. Position yourself inside the aquarium (do NOT crouch!), so you would be actually between the two glass sides and 'standing' on the water.
Now, start hitting the monster.
It won't be able to reach you, but you will be able to hit it! It will take long in the beginning to kill it, so I advise you to do this later, after you would be more trained. But if you are a really stubborn person then I suppose it would take about fifteen minutes real-time.
Now find the city temple. It is in the north-western section of Guberland City, a white-bricked building with colored, mosaic windows.
Talk to Tjolnir the Super-neat who is standing by the bookshelves about his promotion quest from Initiate to Healer.

Don't forget to put two of your desired characters as candidates for the promotion. If you won't, your characters will have completed the quest, but haven't really become Healers. And this is irreversible, unless you have a save.
Then visit the library shop  the one with all the radishes hanging in the centre.
Talk to Skraphedinn Njalssen (one of the shopkeepers) about Nutty Nurtigan. He will ask about a lock of hair from the old hag that seduced Nurtigan and made him mad; he will need it to make a healing potion.

The Hag's cave is outside, in Guberland's desert area, near the shore to the north-west. Enter this cave. The Hag will be inside. Talk to her, if you like, but it is not really necessary. Nearby, there is a stool with the Hag's comb lying on it.
Since the Hag doesn't really want to cooperate with you in healing Nurtigan, you will just use her comb for getting what you need and came here for.

So... you've got all the ingredients. Now, go to the Gathering (the area with tents a bit farther to the left from the docks). Speak to Thorir Mouth by the red tent about Nicolai's job, and challenge Ivan the Smart to a trivia contest (he is standing nearby).
The questions that he will ask you are varying in difficulty, but if you didn't get something right, don't worry  you can challenge him over and over again until you will have all the answers correct.

When you will win, you will get a Victory Certificate from him.
Return to the City, proudly waiving your certificate to the Jarl, and receiving your well-earned, handsome reward of 3000 gold.
Go back to Skraphedinn Njalssen, and give him the lock of hair. Wait for the potion.
Heal Nurtigan, and return to the temple for your promotion to Healer.
At the same time, take a promotion quest from the man nearby, Gray Slemnir, from Healer to Priest.

It is off to Thronheim now... the ship leaves at Wednesdays.
You're in Thronheim docking bay, not far away from the city gates.
Enter the city. You need to speak to Kira the Cold - the Jarla of the City.
Her palace is in the very south-eastern corner of the map. Visit her highness and hand her the Love Letter from the suitor Jarl Bjarni Thordvalssen. Also, don't forget to talk about the Mountain Pass and the Honk Followers.

The Mountain Pass is a very difficult quest - you could never complete it at this level, don't even dream about it. But the Honk quest is a different matter altogether. It is a very easy quest, and you will receive a good reward for its completion - 8000 gold and 10000 experience points. Not bad for starters, huh?

What you need to do:
Exit the city, and head over to the dock master to ask him a favor.
At the end of the discussion, he will ask you about a destination for those Honk followers. It is Beldonia, Guberland, or Mendossus.
It doesn't really matter which one you actually pick. The important part is that in the end, the dock master will agree to wait for the Honks to transport them to the desired location.
All you need to do now is to find the three Honks in the western central part of the City, and talk them into leaving Thronheim. Once you have done that, return to Kira for your reward.

Back in the City, you will still need to do some quests, and train your party in skills.
Find the Spirit and Elemental teachers - teach that to all of the members in your party. Then find the Dark and Light and teach those to your would-be Lich, Priest, and Mage.
Buy any necessary skills - it is your choice, but look for the Meditation and magical skills especially, along with Learning.

Visit the Tavern, and talk to a man by the bar. He will give you a quest for the Temple of Ratatosk - this is about the 'escort' of a letter. This is a very easy quest, since it does not even involve leaving the city.

All you have to do is this:
After receiving the letter, head on back to the direction of Kira's palace. Near it there will be another building - that is the Temple of Ratatosk, the place where there are several very long benches.
On your way in, clean the altar. Then hand over the letter to the priest, and return to the tavern for your reward - 5000 gold.

You should have a lot of money now all from those quest completions, even if there weren't many. You now need to become a Scholar - and that is done at Thjorgard.
The ship leaves at Tuesdays.
You need to become a Scholar. Check shops for any useful stuff - spend on whatever you might need.
A small hint: there is a black market upstairs in the tavern that includes a shop of armor and weaponry, as well as a very cheap trainer - the best in the world. The unfortunate part is that he trains only to level 25. After that, you will need to train in Frosgard  it is the cheapest place after the black market.

Visit Jarl Sven Forkbeard. Clean and repair the town portal altar before him... and head towards the Bembridge University. It is located closely nearby the uphill road to the Jarl's palace.
Take the quest on Scholar there. It is also easy to complete - I will tell you how in the next section.

If you like, visit the Arena - if you have the "Poison" spell taught to at least two members of your party, you will be able to fight on the Squire level. Perhaps even on Knight, if you will get lucky.
Try betting as well - after the first bet, you will start to get income from it. But don't bet higher than 500. A full thousand is just too much - think about what might happen if you would lose the bet without saving the game?
That is exactly why you should always save the game in the Arena, when you are on the 'beginning' level of the game.

You need a ship that sails to Lindisfarne now. Don't give any surprised exclamations, though  that is where you are going to fulfill the quest for Scholar.
The ship leaves at Fridays.
Okay. You're here. You will need to spend some time here, so look around, and visit some shops. There is a lot of time for exploration - but when you have finished with the overall sight-seeing of the city, go to the water canyon and sleep there. Save first, of course.

You are to be attacked by a monster on approximately the 3rd, perhaps the 2nd time that you sleep.
You could encounter an Evil Sorcerer (very tough, you will probably die if encountering him), Thrall Master (you'll kill him), or what you are looking for - a Magreeb.
It shouldn't take more than five days, really. It is better than to run around in Thjorgard and try to escape from crazy Bandits.

When you will encounter the Magreeb, don't kill it at once. Practice running away from it, it following you closely. Check your questbook periodically while running away from it. When it will say that you have found the Magreeb, studied it, and should return to the Bembridge University, that means that you have successfully fulfilled the quest.
Kill the Magreeb (or don't), and return to Thjorgard for your promotion. 
Lindisfarne ships leave for Thjorgard on Saturdays.

Don't forget to candidate your Mage-would be to the quest back in Thjorgard. The man that gives the quest is in the same location - in the Bembridge University, the second guy that is behind the desk.
The Epilogue
Well... all of your characters have been promoted to the first level. Two Healers, two Scholars. Now, you are a force to be reckoned with for all those Thralls in Sturmford!
You are strong enough for all the other creatures in the beginning - Thralls, Basilisks, Skeletons, Imps, maybe even Bandits.

You could sail to Sturmford (at Monday), return General Ivsar Forktooth, bring back the response from Kira the Cold to Jarl Bjarni Thordvalssen, find Marsaili A'Lanth to finish the rumors quest; do the Anskram Keep quest, pass the Beet Hoven sewers, kill all the other hostile creatures outside of Sturmford... pass on to Drangheim, and so on...

You could do a lot of places and things now. You are finally ready to start the adventure in a skilled way. It is only the choices that you will make of where to go to - I have lead you this far, now you will have to pass further on your own.

I hope that my guide will help you through the hard moments at the beginning of the game.

Good luck, adventurer, in your further travels!
~ Lady Dragon the Image Weaver
The Battle Section
There is a variety of monsters in the game, but practically against all of them one could use a similar tactic, only changing it from time to time if necessary - in example, when having a greater spell. Then, instead of walking around the monster cautiously, trying to catch it off guard, you might as well just approach it and use the fiery spells.
Nevertheless, here are a few tips that are essential in the beginning.
Crouching (Battle and Adventure)
This is useful everywhere - starting from a battle where you could avoid an enemy's arrows by crouching at the time when the missile is already off at you, and pointing the cursor directly into the ground.
It always worked for me, especially with Thralls in Sturmford and Drangheim.
However, don't try doing this with Dragonflies. It never works - perhaps their accuracy attributes are very high, or it is just us that are never that lucky.

In addition, you can use the same approach when trying to open a chest that always blows up... or one that you simply cannot disarm, even if you would really like to do it.
First, do on yourself any protection spells that you might have - like Elemental Protection, for example.
Then just get to the farthest point from the chest, and where you could reach it at the same time. Crouch. In this position, open the chest. When the trap goes off, point your cursor to the ground. You should survive, unless you're trying to disarm a Black Chest in the very beginning of the game... then, it's impossible. Don't waste your time.

In case you're being dead and visiting Hanndl by the gates of Arslegard, don't fall into despair. There is still another trick (even if it is a bit unfair):
Load the game (presuming that you've saved it before the chest), and open it again. The damage taken from the chest will decrease by 30%.
BUT: Do not do this a second time. If you load more than once, the damage taken from the chest will increase, instead of decreasing.

Crowdy Rooms & Navigating
When in a room with a lot of creatures attacking you (not necessarily weak and small), try getting into a place where not more than three can attack you at once. Usually, this is a corner (if you are in a Dungeon someplace).
In case this is an outside battle, get into a mountainous corner (be careful, though - you could get stuck if you should back too much).
If there are no mountains, then go to the corner of the map. It works the same as any corner.
In houses, dungeons - try to back constantly into some long hall which you cleared out before, and know well, able to navigate through it without consulting the map. I noticed that turns pass
as well
when you look through the map, searching for a good passage.

Also, the spells of Sparks and Chain Lightning are very useful, since Chain Lightning will hit any creature standing nearby the target. Thankfully, your party is not included.

Fighting the Dragon King
It's not exactly nice to kill a Dragon. It's sad to see him die - he was, in fact, the oldest Dragon to ever live.
However, there is a quest on this poor creature anyhow in the game.
All MM games starting from MM6 had a quest concerning the death of a dragon...
Nevertheless, should you want to fulfil the quest by any means possible, then all you need to do is know the spells of Poison Cloud and Divine Intervention. If my observations are correct, then your spell points never run out in the Dragon King's Cave.

So, just put on 'Quick Spell' Poison Cloud and Divine Intervention, and start attacking the Dragon. It's really rather boring, since the poor Dragon has nothing to kill you with - only the 39000 hit points. Moreover, you are just doing the same thing all over again, approximately during 10 minutes of real time. If you got a character with Master Identify Monster skill, you will be able to see the Dragon's statistics, including hit points.
From time to time, Apparitions will appear, taking the Dragon off guard - he will busy himself with them. This is an opportunity to repair any broken things that you might have.

Undead  The benefits of spells Fear and Turn Undead
What is included into the list of Undead? Many creatures (actually, they make up for about 35% of the game's monsters), and thus, on them works the wonderful spell of 'Turn Undead'.
It is useful in the Lich Lab, where there are maaaany undead people, and in the plains of Yorwick.

In addition, the spell Fear works on practically all those living creatures, making it the sister of Turn Undead. This spell is quite helpful in the dungeons of Dook's Castle.

Swimming will be required in several parts of the game, but it is very uncomfortable to battle in this position, especially when taking into consideration that you are sinking and running out of air at the same time.
A practical solution to swimming fast as an Olympic champion is to do the spell Fleet Foot on you, preferably on Master level. Your travelling speed will increase dramatically.
Sadly, the spell turns off whenever you will encounter a hostile creature.
So, try to out swim the creature to the closest ground level, and kill it from shore. If this isn't an option, use your most powerful spells.
The maximal amount of time that your characters will last under water after their air will run out is not more than 10 seconds of real time.

Natural Cracks
If it is a rocky area, try to get into the worst possible crack. This is helpful in the beginning, since creatures attacking you usually won't be able to pass.

Alternatives to Outright Fighting
In several places, it is possible to cross the mountains and find a more comfortable place to fight than simply in the field. An example is the small hill above the Yobboes in Drangheim, where you could ascend it and shoot them up with minimal injuries (with crouching, there will be even less battle wounds). Just remember to heal yourself from time to time...
A Few Words about Spells
Teleportation Spells
Spells like Lloyd's Beacon and Town Portal were always useful in the games before.
Now, they have most visibly changed. At least Lloyd's Beacon did. There are five beacons to place, but for a very short amount of time - a week, perhaps.

I advise you to place a beacon in Frosgard. There, there is the cheapest Training Hall in all of Chedian, and if you have a four-member party, you will need cheap training.
Just be sure to 'update' the beacon occasionally. It's rather boring to sail all the way from Thjorgard or someplace else.

Spells of Protection
There aren't many of these, but still - try to cast these any time that you feel that you're up against even a slightly stronger opponent. Pain Reflection really works.

Spells of Healing
If you have a spellcaster and if he/she knows Dark Magic to Grandmaster, then don't forget to teach him/her Souldrinker. This spell helps a lot if you don't have Divine Intervention at hand, and there is a bonus - it drains the hit points off your enemy, not your spell points!

Attack Spells
The spell of Chain Lightning has visibly improved from the previous games, but not much. It isn't a cure from all monsters, even if it does a lot of damage. Don't forget about Elemental Bolt - it might be the first spell in the game that you know, but it gets powerful.

Poison Cloud works great against the Colloidal Warriors and Eyes - in the Bathhouse and the Lich Lab.
However, it has a big disadvantage - before, it could ricochet off the walls (when it was still named Toxic Cloud). Now, it just blasts off in one direction, blindly hitting the wall.
Use this spell whenever stuck in narrow passages - like the Verhoffin Ruins, or the Bathhouse drains.

Curse is a good way to go if you want to kill of someone strong  like a Sea Monster in the beginning of the game. (There IS one... in Guberland).