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Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

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Levelling Guide

by Arashmin

 <>.....................................................................<>
  .                                                                     .
  .                   Dragon Quest 9 Levelling Guide                    .
  .                   ------------------------------                    .
  .                           By  Arashmin                              .
  .                           Revision 1.0                              .
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Contents:
1. Welcome!
2. Version History
3. Guide to the Guide
 ~3a) When to Start Power Leveling
 ~3b) Abbreviations, And What They Mean To Us
 ~3c) How XP Is Divided Amongst Characters
4. Suggested Setup
 ~4a) Skills
 ~4b) Gear
5. Where And How To Hunt
 ~5a) General Practices
 ~5b) Metal Slimes (MSli's)
 ~5c) Metal Medley's (MMs)
 ~5d) Liquid Metal Slimes (LMS's)
 ~5e) Metal King Slimes (MKS's)
 ~5f) Platinum King Jewel (PKJs)
6. Conclusion, Copyright, and Thanks

------------
1. Welcome!
------------

To be reading this means the title of this FAQ caught your eye, and power 
leveling, in order to take on some of the bigger challenges, is something 
that you are looking to do.  There isn't going to be any actual main game 
play help listed here, except where it directly pertains to how to increase 
the rate that you accumulate experience.  

I wrote this guide for the love of the game and the genre.  This is the 
first Dragon Quest that also gives you great incentive to push to the 
limits of leveling up, though I also find it to be the easiest title of the 
series for getting to level 99.  Then again, to get the best grottoes, you 
need to get to level 99 a whopping 10 times in one class.  Yikes.  And 
technically, to be to the fullest of revocations, that's level 99... 
120 times!!  CRAZY.

The focus of the guide is to direct you on how to track down Metal Slimes of 
varying grade, and successfully slay them - the buggers have the tendency to 
get skittish and flee from combat.  In essence, we want to one-hit them in 
the first turn, and if not, then give them a reason to stay multiple rounds.

This guide will cover various parts of the game, from early to post, and 
give details on how I power-leveled.

Hope you enjoy, and send your feedback to [email protected]

------------------
2. Version History
------------------

Version 1.0: Started the Guide with the sum of my knowledge thus far.

---------------------
3. Guide to the Guide
---------------------
~3a) When to start Power Leveling~
This is a very hard question, because it seems like there's a couple of 
things that could be considered power leveling.  For example, getting to 
level 99 in one class as fast as possible would be power leveling.  But so 
would, say, getting to level 20 in 10 classes as fast as possible.  This 
guide basically works starting with the latter, then it grows in to the 
former.  Here's a breakdown of what I did to be as time-savvy as possible. 
Also, I know of nobody in my hometown that plays DQ9, therefore you might be
able to skip some steps if you get a decent map handed to you with some 
MKS's/PKJ's through Tag Mode.

Once I got...        Got to...                  Via...
Paladin Class        lvl 20 in 10 classes       Sword-wielders vs. MSli's
                                                and MMs

Sage Class           lvl 30 in 11 classes       4 Sword-wielders, 1 being
                                                FB, vs. LMS

4x FB sword          lvl 36 in 11 classes       4 FB-wielders vs. LMS

2x DS spear          (MC) lvl 80 in main class  2 DS-wielders vs. LMS

MKS grotto           lvl 45 in all classes      4 DS-wielders vs, MKS

lvl 45 all classes   (MC) lvl 99 in main class  2 DS-wielders vs. MKS

MC back to lvl 1     (MC) lvl 99 in main class  2 DS-wielders vs, MKS,
                                                switching second person with
                                                other party members every so
                                                often

Repeat-Repeat-Repeat-Repeat-Repeat-Repeat-Repeat-Repeat-Repeat-Repeat-Repeat

5x Revocate+lvl 99   10x Revocate               4 DS-wielders hunting PKJ
+lvl 86 Grotto

For the sections labelled (MC), I was only focused on the main character 
levelling, and not so much whoever the second wielder was.  Since there's no
real point in revocating your partner characters (you get the item, but not 
the accolade, and you can only get the items once).

The last step is opened to the most debate, as I put in there the point
where you would have a total combined base quality of 210, therefore giving
you a 25% chance per new grotto map to find a PKJ.  They're first possible
to find through a map, according to the calculator at 
http://plumeria.vmth.ucdavis.edu/~saintly/gaming/dq9_grotto.html, at a 
quality of 166, but they have less than 1% chance of appearing.  25% chance 
seemed the best bet.  You could always try to find them later on, as well - 
more revocates and higher lvl grottos gives you a better chance at finding 
them.  MKS doesn't give you as much of a choice, unfortunately... I had to 
find mine through a 146 quality dungeon, which only gave me a 15% chance. 
LMS-leveling was just way too slow at that point.

To note, this is revision 1, and the PKJ section is still not complete. 
Because I haven't found PKJs yet.

~3b) Abbreviations, And What They Mean To Us~

Stats
~~~~~
LVL = Level        = Guess.
AGI = Agility      = Your speed, and thus what determines turn order.
DFT = Deftness     = Increases the chances that you'll get a preemptive
                     strike against the enemy, increases natural crit 
                     chance.
CHM = Charm        = Increases the rate enemies will be dazzled by your 
                     characters by adding to Style.  Comes naturally from
                     the character.
STL = Style        = As above.  Comes from equipment.
MP  = Magic Points = Having more allows you to use more skills, which 
                     depending on the 
                     strat you take may help in keeping you down in the 
                     grotto longer before having to surface and rest, if
                     using methods like TT or HM.

Weapons
~~~~~~~
FB  = Falcon Blade      = 2x attack sword, with very low power.  But against 
                          these metallic beasts, we don't need power.
UFB = Uber Falcon Blade = Same as above, but stronger.  Requires you to 
                          sacrifice a Meteorite Bracelet, though... your
                          call.
DS  = Demon Spear       = Weapon with a chance to Whack the target, though 
                          not all too often.

Skills
~~~~~~
TT   = Thunder Thrust = Spear Miss-or-Crit skill, 8MP
HM   = Hatchet Man    = Axe Miss-or-Crit skill, 8MP
MSla = Metal Slash    = Sword skill, against Metal Slime family, 1-2 damage
                        if hits, 0MP, characters can chain damage, 2x with
                        FB/UFB.

Monsters
~~~~~~~~
See Contents, section 5, and also, section 5 itself.

 ~3c) How XP Is Divided Amongst Characters
I puzzled over this for a little while on my own, but it just proves to be
basic math.  Each LVL gives a "part" of the XP gained.  These are added
together and then re-divided with the experience.  To explain, say your main
character is lvl 10, with 3 lvl 1's backing him, and you kill a MSli.  The
XP of 4096 would be calculated as such:

-Add together all levels (total of 13)
-XP is divided by total levels (for a value of 315.07 (roughly))
-Each character then gets X of those parts of experience (The lower level
characters each get 1 part of the experience each, as they only have one
level. Therefore they get 1/13th of the total, which makes for 315 XP
gained, as it would round down.  Them getting 3/13 parts altogether means
that the main character would get the remaining 10/13 parts, or 3151 XP).
-Lastly, for each character wearing Elevating Shoes, times their XP gain
value by 1.05, and again round down (if the whole party was wearing
elevating shoes, it would mean the lvl 1s would get 330 XP and the main
character would get 3308 XP).

-------------------
4. Suggested Setup
-------------------

~4a) Skills~

These are the suggested skills for hunting Slimes, in order of importance.
To get the skill points, you've got to level up, which of course is later in
the guide.  Also, this section won't highlight all of the skills and traits
gained via the spending of the skill points, but rather the highlights of
what we need that skillset to do for us.  And even though they're in order
of "importance", I wouldn't suggest holding off on putting points in one of
the traits further down the list until that skillset becomes available.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: I didn't note this at first when I was playing, but you
can port skill points to use from class to class.  Therefore, even though we
don't have any real use for learning the Priest, Mage, Paladin, and
Gladiator skill sets, nor the Armamentalist skillsets in full, we can level
these classes to mule the points over to more pertinent skills.

1~Sword Skill lvl 100 - Allows swords to be equipped regardless of class,
MSla + FB means 2-4 damage if both hits strike, and if all four characters
launch with it and strike before the enemy can and do not miss, it becomes
2-6 damage for the 3rd fighter, and 4-8 damage for the 4th.  With the FB,
MSli's die in 1-2 sets of 2 hits, MMs die in 2-3, LMS in 2-4, MKS in 4-4+. 
And each strike may crit, which will kill the slime.

2~Martial Artist trait "Focus" lvl 100 - total AGI bonus of 100.

3~Thief trait "Acquisitiveness" lvl 82 - total AGI and DFT bonus of 60.  If
you go for 100, Treasure Eye Land helps you to find the stairs down in
Grottos.  You really only need one person to get to lvl 100 for that,
though.

4~Ranger trait "Ruggedness" lvl 100 - AGI bonus of 20, and total DFT bonus
of 120.

5~Illuminary trait "Je Ne Sais Quoi" lvl 100 - AGI bonus of 20, total CHM
bonus of 60, and though not directly level related, Disco Stew is handy for
taking out larger Grotto baddies with high DEF.

6~Spear/Axe Skill lvl 100 - Allows said weapon to be equipped regardless of
class.  Gives Thunder Thrust for Spears and Hatchet Man for Axes, both are
8MP, and it will either miss or crit.  It's almost necessary for hunting
MKSs, and pretty much needed for PKJ.  Demon Spear is also good for when you
might be low on MP and just want that extra little chance to get the kill. 
And though I haven't tested them yet, there are the Metal Slime Spear, the
Liquid Metal Spear, and the Metal King Spear, which apparently can eat
through the defenses of the slimes, though it wasn't shared in what regard
from what I had read.  No luck finding one yet, but I'm working no it.

7~Sage trait "Enlightenment" lvl 100 - +60MP and MP cost -25%, helps with
the cost for Thunder Thrust and Hatchet Man.

8~Ministrel trait "Litheness" lvl 100 - CHM bonus of 30 and DFT bonus of 50

9~Armamentalist trait "Fource" lvl 42 - CHM bonus of 10

Final Stats: CHM +100, DFT +230, AGI+200, MP+60, and 824 skill points used
(842 if full thief is learned).

The skill points work out that, if you get to lvl 30 in all classes, you
will be able to learn all of the above skillsets.  You would have a total of
864 points, so you would have enough to get the final Thief skill for the
entire class if you really wanted.  If you got to lvl 29 in all classes, you
would only have 804 skill points.

These will help you to weasel your way around their pesky defenses and help
to keep them from running away, but as MKS's and PKJ's have some tough
friends in their grotto homes, I'd also suggest getting Shield lvl 100 to
give the capacity to block to your whole party, Paladin lvl 100 for HP and
RES, Gladiator lvl 100 for STR and HP, and then the rest for however you
want to develop that character.  If you feel you need more MP, Priest, Mage,
and Armamentalist all have some MP bonuses.

Seems like a lot of points, huh?  But it really turns out to be quite
manageable if you decide to get all of your job levels up to 45 via the
earlier training methods in this guide.  Even getting to level 20 in 10 of
the classes is enough to net you 400 skill points, or 4 complete skillsets.

~4b) Equipment

Equipment is a bit more simple, since it's more or less the skills that will
do the talking.  But here's some suggestions, nonetheless.

Weapon: FB, UFB, Demon Spear, Metal Slime Spear/Liquid Metal Spear/Metal
King Spear(?)
-The first two double attacks, the Demon Spear can do a auto-kill, the Metal
series spears can pierce the defenses of Metal Slimes (need to find and test
this still).

Shield: Highest STL (need to find)

Body: Highest STL (need to find)

Pants: Highest STL (need to find)

Gloves: Highest DFT/STL (need to find)

Boots: Elevating Shoes would be best, as they give a 5% XP bonus to the
wearer.  From there, I'd go with the Metal Slime series of boots, and then
Agiliboots for Rangers, Bandit Boots for Thieves, and then lastly highest
STL boots you have (need to find)

Accessory: Meteorite Bracers, above all else.  If you don't have them, then
I'd say Agility Rings or highest STL accessory (need to find)

------------------------
5. Where And How To Hunt
------------------------
 ~5a) General Practices
When hunting down slimes, you'll have a few barriers to work around to even
get in to the battle.  First, there are the other enemies.  They can be
broken down in to a couple of different types:

Dash-On-Sight enemies: These ones will run directly towards you upon you
entering their line of sight.  They will not pursue, they will just keep
running forward until they come to a stop.  Easiest way to avoid them is to
get somewhat close, like a character's length away, and run slightly away
from your intended path, then when they start chasing you, start going the
direction you intend to again.  They'll most likely hit a wall.  
Common ones include the moai family and the charmour-type living armor
creatures.

Dash-On-Sense enemies: Like above, however they may be able to just sense
you moving.  Same practice as before, but you won't have to get in front of
them.  They seem to be able to sense through walls, and will try to dash
through the wall... which is a huge advantage :) 
Common ones include sculpture vultures and slugly betsy's.

Chase enemies: The bane of most slime hunts, these enemies will chase you
upon sensing you (I don't know if there's any that will only chase on line
of sight).  They're faster than you, but your main advantage over them is
the ability to turn on the spot, whereas they have to turn in an arc. 
Running a circle around past them and getting them to start turning the
other way to chase you is the easiest way to get past them.  
Common ones include, well... most of the enemies in the game are of this
type.

Cower enemies: I notice with rockbomb-type enemies and some other types that
the enemy may react to you, turn towards you, and... sit in place,
shuddering.  I don't know if this is a bug in their movement or if it's
actual fear.  If you come across this, just walk around them...
Only common one I've met is rockbombs.

Running enemies: Enemies that run away from you.  Not much strategy in
avoiding them, but catching them is generally the focus.  
All of the metal slime family, and most enemies that would chase you at low
levels but is now meeting your much-higher-level self, fall in to this
category.

Warping enemies: They will not move, but suddenly you'll see the fade and
appear again in another spawn spot.  No real tactic hear.  
Examples are magmalice and live lava.

Dumb enemies: They just ignore you until you run up and fight them, and move
from spawn to spawn.
Examples include gigantes and drakulard.

Also, keep in mind that when you enter a combat, the enemies that are
walking around will be reset, and you'll have to wait for them to respawn. 
On field, they generally spawn within 2-3 seconds, whereas in dungeons, it
takes about 5 seconds.
 

 ~5b) Metal Slimes (MSli's)
Where to find: Quarantomb, Pluvi Isle, Slime Plateau
Suggested: Quarantomb.  I've never seen a single one on Pluvi.
What level you should get to through these: 10-13
How to kill: MSla them with 1-3 characters, or with FB, 1-2 characters.
How to hunt: They appear rarely, and they run away quickly.  In the 
Quarantomb, it's all long, narrow chambers, meaning that you're more than
likely to come upon them before it notices you and runs.  Just keep moving,
and avoid anything you don't want to fight.
XP: 4096

*: Don't do this for all classes.  I'd say just do it enough to get the
points for all of the characters to get 100 points in swords for all
characters, then move on to Metal Medley's

 ~5c) Metal Medleys (MMs)
Where to find: Lonely Coast, The Bad Cave, Slime Plateau (Angel Falls),
low-lvl grottos
Suggested: The Bad Cave.  Again, I've never seen one at the Lonely Coast.
What level you should get to through these: 20-25
How to kill: MSla them with 3-4 characters, or with FBs, 2-3 characters.
How to hunt: They appear rarely, and they run away quickly.  In the far
reaches of the Bad Cave, you have to deal with 3 other enemies that are all
Chase types.  Keep moving, but keep in mind that some of the sub-chambers in
the back area might be a little constrictive when they get filled with an
enemy body.  Grottos may be the better bet, as MMs have a good chance to
appear in low level grottos, and can appear with a variety of fellow
creatures that might be of a better movement type.
XP: 12288

*: This is where I started doing it for all classes.  With 10 classes
unlocked, that is 400 skill points, which allows you to get developed enough
to hunt the next mob.

 ~5d) Liquid Metal Slimes (LMS's)
Where to find: The Bowhole, Slime Plateau (Angel Falls), mid-lvl grottos
Suggested: The Bowhole or Slime Plateau; I prefer the former.
What level you should get to through these: 36-40
How to kill: TT or HM them if you are hunting with two people, or if you're
hunting with a full party of 4 each with FBs, 3-4 MSla's will do it.
How to hunt: They appear rarely, and they run away quickly.  On Slime
Plateau, you don't have much room to work with, so getting a spawn point to
reset can be rather hard.  I'd say use the cave at the north side for this
purpose.  In the Bowhole, the best strategy I've come across was to go in to
the room with the overhead bridge and where the stairs down to the next room
are surrounded by water.  Right near those stairs down, there's a set of
steps to the right that lead up to the overhead bridge.  Stand on the top of
the steps and position yourself so that your character is basically hugging
the wall, and tilt the camera to the right, so now that your character is
right in between the torch and the wall.  The enemies will come out from
near the stairs down, and then move up the steps towards you.  If you're
positioned right, even if the enemy is a big fat drakulard, it won't enter
you in combat.  The enemies will spawn, for a maximum of about 5 enemies. 
Then you'll notice the enemies won't move any more.  To remedy that, rush
past whatever enemies are nearby and go to the stairs down, and then right
back up, and repeat.  Or instead of going down the stairs, you could always
kill the closest thing to you and not have to move much.
XP: 40200

*: I got all my characters up to lvl 36 in all classes this way, but
maaan... it was pretty tiresome.  It threw on about an extra 5 hours of
playtime.  I did this right before the last boss... well, right after he
pretty much whooped me once, heh.  Anyways, this gave me a total of 1056
skill points per character, giving you the full hunting skillset and then
some.

 ~5e) Metal King Slime (MKS's)
Where to find: Tower of Nod, mid-to-high lvl grottos.  I met one in the
Tower of Nod, actually, but it's really unreliable.
Suggested: Grottos, especially if you get one where they're on floors 1-4.
What level you should get to through these: 45 in all classes, and then 99
and revocating your main class for the main character.
How to kill: TT or HM them if you are hunting with two people, or if you're
hunting with a full party of 4 each with FBs, 4 MSla's may kill one, but
considernig you can meet multiples of them (up to 3 in one combat), it's
really better to stick with TT and HM.
How to hunt: Grottos vary in the baddies that haunt them, so it's really
hard to give any one strategy here.  I would suggest if you find a grotto
that they're in, clear the grotto first so then you have the full map, and
then see how you can use the terrain to your advantage to have the enemies
respawn at a steady rate.  If you keep moving and keep getting to empty
respawn points, you'll see an enemy pop up once ever 5 seconds, roughly, and
MKS's seem to pop up about 1/32 of the time.  Keep in mind there's also
usually 3 other mobs that can spawn, and those ones would generally be a lot
more likely.  You may want to find a grotto with as few Chase type enemies
as well.  Right now I'm using a water grotto where they appear at b5, and
thus have slugly betsies, charmours, and moai ministrels, which are all
pretty easy to deal with as they're all Dash types, and only the slugly
betsie can actually sense my character to dash at him.
XP: 120400

*: I got all my characters to lvl 45 in all classes with this, except for
the main character.  I left him in the main class and just kept revocating
him until I got to 6 times revocated, so I could finally "easily" move on to
the next mob.  However, once all the side characters were lvl 45 in all
classes, I started getting them up to lvl 99 in their primary classes, and
then to lvl 99 in secondary classes, designed for Legacy boss hunting.  If
you get lvl 45 in all classes, you'll have 1512 skill points, which is
enough to learn 2 weapons, shield, and all the class trait skillsets.  More
than enough to be serious about hunting Legacy bosses.

 ~5f) Platinum King Jewel (PKJs)
Where to find: High level grottos
Suggested: Well, not much of a choice here.
What level you should get to through these: As high as you want to get to.
How to kill: TT or HM them only.  You could go MS, but these guys won't even
fall in 4 hits from it.
How to hunt: I imagine it would be the same as the MKS's, but as I still
have not come to the point of fighting them yet, and therefore what mobs
surround them and which ones are the easiest to deal with, I'll have to add
this later.
XP: 240000

*: You need 2600 skill points to master all weapons and skills.  Even lvl 99
in all 12 classes will only give you 2400 skill points (200 each at the
end), therefore for all characters to master eveything, they would need to
get to lvl 99 in all classes, revocate once, and then get to lvl 99 again in
that class.

------------------------------------------------------------
6. Conclusion, Copyright, Thanks, and Future Release Details
------------------------------------------------------------
Well, that's it for now.  If you have any questions or suggestions, feel
free to send them to [email protected]  And from that I'll build
the FAQ section.

Copyright disclaimer: Property of Arashmin 2010.  Feel free to email me if
you want to use this, just remember this is protected by mine AND GFaqs
copyright.

Thanks to SquareEnix, Level5, and all the other teams involved with the
making of the game, for such a great game, and to me, for being such a great
gamer.  :D And also for containing some of the nice details like the XP
values
Also thanks to fallacies and his helpful Experience Guide for the
information on the skillpoints per level.
And to you, for being so great as to read the guide... even the thanks
section!

Next release, I will add HP values for the slimes (HP seems to flux a bit
for them, I've killed a MSli with 2 damage before, and sometimes with 3
damage - same goes with MM and LMS.  Also will add an FAQ as the questions
come in.

o---o
 END
o---o