The game is much more difficult here, mostly due to the fact that master level skills will make POST-LEVEL 15 a joke if you have built yourself right, but a couple of other things set the early game apart in huge ways such as having Low AP/HP/FUNDS insta-death enemies/boss moves/traps.
So what Novice abilities/talents/items make the early-mid game easier and/or are the best investments?
1. Midnight Oil + Boulder Bash: Very Low AP Cost, Very Cheap Books, AoE, has "Oiled" CC
2. Rain: Very Low AP Cost, Very Cheap Book, AoE, has "Wet" CC
3. Grenades + Special Arrows: 3-4 AP, Dirt Cheap to Craft, AoE, all sorts of CC
4. Touching Spells: Very Low AP Cost, Cheap Books, Single Targets, all sorts of CC
5. Summon Spider: High AP, Cheap Book, Summon that detects traps and is poison immune
6. Teleport: High AP, Medium Book Cost, Endless Possibilities
7. Regenerate: Medium AP, Cheap Skill Book, heal yourself or hurt certain enemies
8. Walk-in-Shadows + Hover Feet + Fast Track: Low AP cost, Cheap Book, Endless Possiblities
9. Power Stances: No AP cost, Cheap Books, 20% increase in all damage
10. Wildfire + Burn My Eyes: Medium AP cost, Expensive-Medium Book Cost, cures for "Frozen" and "Blind" as well as gives "Haste" and +2 Perception (spotting traps and secrets)
11. Thunder Jump + Battering Ram: Medium AP, Medium Book Cost, Mobility Boost + CC
What are ADEPT abilities that will best help you transition between PRE-LEVEL 15 and POST-LEVEL 15?
1. Rage +Farseer: Very Low AP cost, Medium book cost, Massive damage and % hit chance boost
2. Drain Willpower: Medium to Low AP cost, Medium book cost, Brutal CC for bosses
3. Destroy Summon: Medium AP, Medium book cost, Insta death for pesky enemy summons
4. Crippling Blow + Daggers Drawn + Barrage/Splintered Arrow: Your three heavy hitting skills- Melee/Dagger/Bow, all of which are brutal the entire game.
Once you hit level 15 master level spells come into play (note that you have to have at least 4 points in a skill to learn master spells but almost all master spells you can't learn until you are at least lv 15 in EE; this means there is little/no point in putting 4-5 points into any school of magic pre level 15!) and what wins? Three things come into play, 1. Single target vs AoE, 2. How much damage does it do, and 3. CC or not to CC. Abilities like "Hail Attack" and "Rain of Arrows" are the best because they do multiple things very well. AoE will always trump single target, flat damage will always trump damage over time (fire/burning) and imobilizer CC is clearly the best (frozen, shocked, etc).
1. Hail Attack= AoE, great damage, and frozen CC. (Rating- GOOD)
2. Rain of Arrows= AoE, massive raw damage, no CC. (Rating- GOOD)
3. Storm= AoE, decent damage, stunned CC (Rating- UGLY-Hail Attack is better)
4. Meteor Shower= AoE, good damage, burning CC (Rating- UGLY-Hail Attack is better)
5. Arrow Spray= Cone AoE, massive damage, no CC (Rating- UGLY- Rain of Arrows is better)
These are the five best Master skills in the game. Because Fire Magic Novice and Adept skills are beyond worthless and because "burning" is a terrible CC post level 15, the investment to pick up Meteor Shower is personally not recommended. Arrow Spray is not as useful overall as Rain of Arrows but for certain situational fights (such as the final fight of the game) when positioned correctly the Ranger with this skill will drop some of the hardest bosses in the game in a single shot.
* Flurry= Single, good damage, no CC (Rating-UGLY- no AoE, no CC)
* Soul Sap= Single, no damage, brutal CC (Rating-UGLY- no damage, no AoE)
These two master level skills are actually BAD to UGLY vs most mobs in the game but vs certain bosses they will shine- your Leadership Knight will get Flurry and your Ranger will get Soul Sap.