ROT’S GUIDE TO THE CATACLYSM
In the cataclysm, character generation (chargen) is very important, you want to min/max the hell out of your character. Now I can’t really coach you on this, as all charcters have your preference installed into them, however some traits I recommend are Light Step, Parkour Expert, Indefatigable, Quick, Fleet footed, Tough and Night Vision. - All these will make you a light-footed, speedy, tough-as-nails survivor with a love for vitamin A. All these traits and basically the base ingredients and stock of the ‘character stew’ - The rest of the traits are just flavoring and I will explain why I recommend these ‘base ingredients’.
NPC’S ARE YOUR FRIEND - AND ENEMY
If you have them enabled, some NPC’s are super cool - like the one I started out with apparently had 6 dodge and I convinced him to train me. Others are assholes who walk up to you, tell you to get out of their territory and give you 5 seconds before they start shooting.
They’re a real pain, and my best way of describing them are that they’re a double-edged sword. (They’re also a bit buggy) However, for a cannibal, they taste great, and for a regular survivor, they’re walking, talking, meat shields and goodie bags
FOR THE RANGED FIGHTER
My early days consisted of ranged fighting, mostly with bows and crossbows (Prefer crossbows, their ammo is much cheaper to craft) and archery is silent - so nighttime raids were a breeze. Anyway, at character gen i’d start pumping a few points into archery and fabrication (A total of four usually, two in each skill). While you can learn all this without having to spend points in character generation, it’s really useful for someone starting out. Just make sure you know archery is a “Body and Mind” type of deal. You want at least 12 strength to draw all bows, since crossbows and bows draw faster according to your strength, and can only be used to their full potential if you’re strong enough. Also put some points into perception for more accurate shots.
Guns are cool too, you can mod them and make them yours. They’re just damn hard to find, ammo can be scarce and if you’re unskilled they’re not to good for your health - Noisy too, but mods will help. In capable hands with a survivor who knows where to find ammo and a target - Guns make THE GAME. So pick up that .50 cal rifle and blast a zombie a mile away. (Also, if you have a high enough mechanics, fabrication, rifles, and marksman skill you can craft a pneumatic assault rifle from scrap. Fires pebbles, marbles, and bearings - super cheap ammo - and is silent and can fire full auto. Arguably one of the best weapons in this game.)
FOR THE MELEE FIGHTER
If you want to go melee however, put points into dodge - usually one or two points. This will IMMENSELY help you, as you can dodge most attacks and be agile. My character has 10 dodge and I can walk into a horde of zombies, sit in the middle, and slash at them with my katana and barely sustain any damage as I slaughter all of them.
Good early game weapons consist of knife spears and makeshift crowbars. If you’re in a lab, a machete or combat knife (Obtained from manhacks.) End game weapons are awl pikes, katanas/longswords, rapiers, machetes, just pretty much anything with a corresponding combat art.
Speaking of combat arts, hand-to-hand is super fun to do, but make sure you have a decent unarmed skill and an actual martial art for it. There are a ton of different martial arts for both weapons and unarmed alike.
WEAPONS AND YOUR BRAIN
Weapons are your friend, so is your brain. Think outside the box. You can kill zombies in a plethora of ways in this game. Molotovs are super good for early game survivors, cheap to make and effective. Just make sure it’s not raining or else the rain will douse the fires.
Some ways for molotovs can be used is to make a crap ton of noise, lead a bunch of zombies in a house, and run through with them behind you - closing doors and running through windows. Once they’re preoccupied with bashing doors down you can now chuck molotovs on the house and watch as you burn it down with the zeds inside.
I did this tactic at a mall where i used a crossbow to shoot out sections of glass windows and threw molotovs in front of it, letting zeds funnel through and die before they reach me. Another viable tactic is to find a working vehicle and ram zombies with it. A common thing to do is craft a massive deathmobile. - explained later
I’ve also dug pits in a checkerboard pattern and filled them with spikes - only to lead zombies to stumble in and die in my death pits. Same thing can be done for strategically placed flammable objects and lighting them on fire to lead zombies into.
MOVEMENT POINTS, SPEED, AND HOW IT WORKS
The more encumbered you are, the slower you move, and the more ‘turns’ a monster has. The faster you move, the more ‘turns’ you have. So by being speedy with the traits Fleet footed and Quick, as I explained above, you can attack faster and move quicker than pretty much any monster. Allowing you to high tail (with ") it out of there if things get hairy.
Of course it drains stamina like other physically demanding task so you should rest (with | - to the right of the ]/} key) whenever you get the chance to replenish it. Indefatigable helps to reduce the amount of stamina drain, so you can run, swim, attack and carry heavy shit over long distances more.
Now movement points are something, people recommend you to crawl over empty windows for good reason - you get an extra 2 hits in with a zombie as it’s crawling through the window because it’s using it’s points to move through and cannot attack you. So here’s where Parkour Expert comes in, it allows you to traverse these movement point eaters without cost. So press X and look at the movement points for something, if it’s 400 or something, that’s what you want. Empty windows, bushes, etc.
ENCUMBRANCE AND HOW IT EFFECTS YOU + ARMOR
Encumbrance is a big thing, try to find the most bang for your buck clothing-wise. 'Cause if you don’t, and you’re a melee fighter, you WILL miss and stumble on every attack and monsters will get a free human happy meal.
You want something that protects you from the elements, damage, is light and not very encumbering, and is weatherproof. Early game this may look like a t-shirt and a sweater underneath a leather jacket - Late game could be something like a survivor suit (http://cdda-trunk.chezzo.com/survivor_suit).
As a general rule for myself, I never go over 29 encumbrance on pretty much anything. 30 encumbrance is OK, but make sure you’re not going over 39 if you really want to push it.
MONSTERS AND WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Note that these enemies are the more common one’s you’d face, read more about other types here: http://cdda-trunk.chezzo.com/monsters/species/
ZOMBIES: From regular zombies to special ones and even infected wildlife - These enemies make the game. At first zombies are quite difficult to beat if you don’t know what you’re doing but specials are even harder. Generally the one’s to avoid if you’re starting out are Brutes, Hulks, anything with ‘shocker’ in it or anything that is related to acid, (corosive, etc.) Special zombies have a certain trait that sets them apart from everyone else, Hulks & Brutes are super strong, skeletons can’t be shot, masters and necromancers raise the dead, children give you guilt and are hard to hit, etc. Taking the time to write about every one will take way to much time, so read up more here: http://cdda-trunk.chezzo.com/monsters/species/ZOMBIE
WILDLIFE: A lot of wildlife are harmless, but few are dangerous. Generally everything that you’d avoid in real life, take the same measures in the game. Bears and Wolves will easily tear you a new one. Moose are a notorious newbie killer, due to their supposed aggressiveness and their high damage and speed. Coyotes and Bobcats are mostly just annoying rather than a threat, but still, do take caution. Wildlife in general have a negative amount of aggressiveness (Only wolves have 0, the rest are in the -15 to -20 range) so when spotting any animal that you’re sure aren’t skittish (And are potentially dangerous), make sure you do your best to avoid them. More on them here:
FUNGUS AND TRIFFIDS: Fungus and Plants are both weak to fire and poison gas. General rule is to avoid melee combat with fungus unless you want to die a painful death due to spores - unless you have good protection (Gas mask, cleansuit, etc). Triffids are good fighters, so it’s not recommended that you engage in melee either unless you’re properly prepared/good at melee. General rule for these - KILL IT WITH FIRE. Flamethrowers and molotovs galore.
http://cdda-trunk.chezzo.com/monsters/species/PLANT or http://cdda-trunk.chezzo.com/monsters/species/FUNGUS
INSECTS AND SPIDERS: Insects are quite a strange one, they possess chitin exoskeleton, so some have decent bashing/cutting protection. Wasps, Bees, and dermatriks are one’s to look out for since they’re fast and are hard to hit. Others are not too much of a threat. Spiders are generally difficult to hit, the real one’s to watch out for is Black Widow Spiders and Wolf Spiders and Trapdoor Spiders. These are generally aggressive, and black widow’s are very very venomous (Obviously.).
http://cdda-trunk.chezzo.com/monsters/species/SPIDER or http://cdda-trunk.chezzo.com/monsters/species/INSECT
NETHER CREATURES: Most common ones are Grackens, Krecks and Mi-Go. They’re pretty rare but still dangerous to new players. Just lead them into zombies or whittle their health down. Mi-Go are quite cowardly and will run once you deal enough damage. Generally if you hear things like klaxon blaring or people talking, etc. It’s a Mi-Go parroting things that it was said to it during it’s captivity. Once you locate them they’re generally surrounded with corpses of either soldiers or scientists - both hold very good loot.
A rule about monsters is that look at your skills and weapons. New players are recommended to flee than fight, when fighting however do use some advanced tactics like firebombing houses with zombies trapped inside to making a check board pattern of spike pits to kill your enemies. Do you best to avoid enemies early game or until you get a decent weapon. Dying is a thing in game, and even this guide can’t guarantee your survival. It’s called RNG and he’s a cruel, cruel being.
BOOKS ARE KNOWLEDGE - AND KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Nothing better can be said for books - they’re your everything in this game. By reading books, you can learn recipes for stuff like explosives to crafting weapons and tools like longswords or crowbars, you can of course, speed through and gain a ton of levels with the least amount of effort. Books are basically one of the most efficient ways to level, just behind NPC teachings.
Once you set up a decent base with food, water, your character is clothed and has a good weapon, your next priority is books. Books level you up and can prevent you from dying. Not to mention help you make a more efficient base and survivor.
GOOD AREAS TO LOOT
Your average house for all your basic needs - but be on the lookout for basements as they can have incredible fortune or misfortune (Like gun basements, weed farms, labs, and spider nests, etc.)
Other places are your average Gun store, Police station, etc. For obvious reasons. Antique stores are great too, if you’re lucky they’ll have an actual sword you can use with maybe some flintlock guns too.
Grocery stores, Hospitals, and any kind of tool stores are good for specifics, whether it be food, electronics, meds, or building supplies. Dojos, boxing gyms, etc are great if you want martial arts books for blades, blunts, and fists.
Mansions are awesome spots to loot. In the entrance of the mansion there could be medieval weapons, European or Eastern. Inside can contain booze, guns, food, and books. Libraries, Pools (AKA infinite water sources), bars, etc. ALL are good pickings. Mansions may even contain a rare weapon martial art(s), like ones for Longswords, Awl Pikes, Katanas, and Rapiers, etc.
Just keep a open eye (by pressing V) to inspect all items in your vision, it helps so you don’t have to examine every container or corpse.
VEHICLES AND MECHANICS
LORE: In the lore that was written, acid rain poured from the sky due to caustic space pollution (For lack of better words) being belched into the atmosphere via portals, thus getting mixed up with the rain and poured back down somewhere else which destroyed (or at least damaged) vehicles and other things. Thankfully acid rain is turned off due to it being a newbie killer and that it shit on all local wildlife (Including yourself) and vehicles that were unfortunate enough to be outside.
THE CARS LEFT BEHIND: Now they’re just damaged clunkers - repairable, damaged clunkers. To repair these things you need a welder, welding goggles and some skill. It uses the mechanics skill, easily obtainable by books, and less easily obtainable by repairing gear using a soldering iron or taking out batteries from cars.
MAKING A SUPERCAR: Now here’s the fun part - To make a true deathmobile, you going to need some tools (Wrenches, hacksaws and a welder/acetylene torch). Tools can be salvaged from garages (Marked as a white O on the map), which are prime areas for tools, and other things like car parts. After you get tools, you need materials. You can start by going to a vehicle and removing parts with ‘O’, this trains your mechanics skill and gets you raw car material.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: You can do plenty of stuff to vehicles like add more batteries, remove things like trunks (650-ish Volume capacity) in favor for cargo carriers (1000 capacity) to cargo dimensions (Believe it’s a million). Even change what type of fuel you use and strap armor to your car - Mad Max style.
My favorite thing to do is get a car, change it’s fuel to gasoline (Gasoline is easiest to find) then remove the trunk space and add cargo carriers for that storage and then armor the hell out of it. Also remove the passenger seat in favor for a bed and use the rest of the space to add things like more battery storage, solar panels, a spiked ram in the front, etc. Point is, it’s your car, do what YOU want.
CARS THAT ARE AVAILABLE: On the topic of cars, the best cars are generally military vehicles, namely humvees. I say this because they’re not too big, they’re well armored, plenty of initial space for items, and can easily hold you and other goodies like crafting stations and such. APC’s are too big, and Tanks for me are just great for their materials. Of course this is my opinion, you may have a different view but it’s fine.
Civilian cars that I recommend are the armored car (Think of a civilian version of the humvee, with steel plates over military composite plating.) Security van, police car, and if it comes down to it, regular cars, trucks, etc. will do. I like security vans since they’re decently common, they have plenty of space for cargo and crafting stations, they’re armored, and they’re not too cumbersome. You can make due with any vehicle (As I like to do, make supercars out of anything.)
FUEL: On the topic of fuel and what your car can use, there are your basic bare bones stuff like gasoline, diesel, and electricity to more exotic fuels like hydrogen, plutonium cells, and the tears of your enemies. Gasoline is the most common fossil fuel, I can spent 10 minutes real time siphoning 2 tanks full in a city, bad thing is that makes noise when used, like all fossil fuels. Diesel is a bit more rare, but if your cooking is high enough, you can make diesel yourself, noise is the same with Gas. Electricity is quiet and basically renewable. Bad thing is that you need decent solar panels and a large amount of battery storage to make it viable. Plutonium and hydrogen are good fuel, but this is offset due to the fact that they’re so rare it’s basically pointless to use them as fuel.
ARMOR:Topic on Armor - Military composite is the best, It’s strong and decently light. Steel plating/Hard plating is next on the list, very easy to acquire and make but they’re a bit heavy. Decent at withstanding damage however. Superalloy is light and OK as armor but it’s so rare it’s basically pointless to armor your car out of it with it’s less-than-mediocre armor rating. Spiked plating is OK, but I’d rather slap it on the front of the car or places with high contact with zeds as rams or something to maximize killing potential. Next up is things like Wooden armor and Chitin platings. Don’t know much on this, but if resources are plentiful and you really don’t have any other alternatives, give this a try.
EXTRA NOTES ON CARS: You need two steerable wheels, and two stationary ones (The latter preferably in the back.). Acetylene torches need welding gas, previously they were unreloadable but had 1000 ‘units’ of use. If you go to a garage, there are cranes and stuff that can be used to lift your vehicle so you can install things like wheels without 90 strength. You refill your vehicle on the spot where the tank is located, same thing for siphoning, you need a rubber hose and an empty container for that. When you’re driving, be careful that you don’t go over the speed your engine is capable of handling, otherwise it’ll break down. E.G. It’ll say 60/82 mph - if you go over 82 it’ll damage and eventually destroy your engine. Your engine has a specific fuel it will take. Gasoline engines will take gasoline, diesel ones diesel, electric motors electricity, etc. The higher the number the more powerful, V8 is better than V6, V12 is better than V8 and V6.
CRAFTING AND BUILDING
Ahh, the finer parts of the game. Hit that crafting menu with ‘&’ and provided you have the right materials, skills and recipes, you can craft pretty much everything. From drugs, to explosives, weapons, clothes, food, etc. Best ways to get recipes are books (which generally you get all your recipes from.) Now here’s a good tip, if you crafting a ton of one item - good example is boiling water for consumption - is to batch craft. Hit ‘&’, go to the desired item to craft in bulk and press ‘b’ this allows you to make up to 20 of one item. That way you save time, frustration and resources. You can light a splinter on fire and boil 20 units of water using batch crafting, don’t ask how, just know it works and is good.
On the topic of building, it’s tedious and takes a ton of resources, but is damn cool. Get the required consturction level, tools, materials press ‘*’ and you can rebuild this world one medieval doom castle at a time. It allows you to make things like smoking racks and charcoal kilns to concrete walls and spike pits.
THIS SITE RULES (and others of course…)
All in all if you have a question about a certain thing go to this site - http://cdda-trunk.chezzo.com
It’s an item browser, I.E. It has a massive list of all the monsters, and items, what it does, how to craft it, etc.
Also the fourms (The one you’re currently in) is very happy to help with any questions.
Also, things like mutations and bionics are left out due to them being more of a mid to end game thing.
(PS - sorry for any spelling mistakes or gaps in/missing information, it’s a bit hard to keep track of this massive post)
Feel free to add to this, put it in the wiki, etc.