There's another advantage to offhanding weapons that I especially like. I offhand a -4ss dagger. It drops my average damage per round slightly but my increased resistance to spells more than makes up for it. Offhanding a weapon with +dex is also very useful as you can wear -dex eq that increases your damroll and still have 18 dex. Since your offhand weapon only gets up to 2 attacks per round the decrease in the damage you do is not that much. Backstabs will do slightly less damage but this will be counteracted by the hits you make with your offhand weapon during the three combat rounds of lag after the backstab. The only time that using an offhand weapon is possibly not really a good thing is when fighting other backstabbing players and not many melee rounds are actually fought because both of you are fleeing/backstabbing all the time.
All of the figures that I've given above are dependant on hitting with every attack and getting all possible attacks. This is not usually what happens but that doesn't make a difference to which weapon is better. You are equally likely to miss whether you offhand of not (assuming you have the same hitroll with each weapon) and as such my argument does not change except to say that actual average damage is less than the scenario that I gave above.
There are many creative way to increase your damage just remember one thing: you are trying to increase your average damage, not your maximum.
With the new changes to ticking and the introduction of vitality, a little known and even less frequently used skill has become slightly more useful. Meditate. Any player that has heal will probably start ignoring me now but there is a use for it. Meditate requires that you be resting and alone in the room before you can use it. It also has a fairly long wait state after using it. This proved to be very annoying whenever I tried to use it as I didn't have a tick timer and whenever I used it I almost inevitibly missed the tick as I couldn't sleep in time. Now that we rest when we want to tick, that disadvantage has gone. Instead of just sitting there and doing nothing while waiting to tick up, meditate if you're solo. 100 extra hp can never go astray, especially just after you've fled from a mobile. Yes, your movement will decrease slightly but look at it this way: a refresh costs you 10 mana (mass refresh in a form of 3 or less) and increase your vitality a little bit whereas a heal will drain you of 50 mana.
Speaking of vitality, I think it is a very good thing to make sure that your vitality stays up. I'd give 75% as a lower limit. As it decreases, you slowly become worse and worse, hitting less and failing more spells. If you don't keep your vitality up or you forget about it, you are at a disadvantage. I shall give an example of my own. On 27% vitality (It had only just been introduced and I had forgotten about it) I failed 7 of 9 heals. That sort of spellcasting rate cannot be sustain and I died soon afterwards. So what should you do when your vitality is a bit low? There are two options: 1) sleep 2) refresh. Refresh doesn't increase your vitality at a very fast rate (each refresh will increase vitality by 0.5%) but then again, neither does sleeping. If you are in a form, it is much easier to get your vitality back up. All non-spellcasters (which usually means all single class warriors and thieves) should sleep and everyone else cast mass refresh many times. When you have 3 or 4 players all spamming mass refresh until they run out of mana, vitality increases quite quickly. The sleeping players won't slow down the form for the full 3 minutes required before they can wake up, any player, just as before, can wake another player thereby rendering the 3 minutes required viod if in form.
Another skill that I think is underused (although not as much as meditate) is trap. Any sort of mage/thief multi has two choices when they want to keep a mobile out of the room they're in. Shield Room or trap. Shield Room is, in my opinion overused compared to trap. Shield Room cost 75 mana, so if you're fighting a mob, you must have at least 75 mana before you flee and you hope that you don't fail the spell. Trapping on the other hand is much easier. By storing traps in their inventory, the player can flee quite safely with very little mana. It is true that mobs can aviod the traps when they enter the room but with 3 traps in there, that occurs very infrequently. This technique is especially useful when fighting aggresive mobs that can detect invisibility, or to slow down the annoying wilderness mobs when on a trade run.
A word of warning about traps: some mobs cannot be trapped and the above technique will not be very useful in the event that one of them enters the room.
And if you still don't believe that 5 mangles does more than 3 horribly maims then here is a damage table to try and convince you otherwise:
|Damage||Verb shown in Combat|
|10-11||Draw Blood From|
And these 4 others usually appear near the end of the fight: