Tips and tricks

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These tips and tricks will help you get the most out of your life on the island once you're familiar with the user interface and gameplay.

Beginner's guide

Welcome to Shartak. Perhaps you're wondering how you should spend your first day. You can begin by visiting one of the resource huts in your camp. Depending on how you would like to play, you may seek out the medical supplies or the weapons and ammunition. Once you feel that you are well-equipped, you can begin your adventure.

Move through the jungle and hunt for animals or even other players. While attacking members of the same side is generally not appreciated, there is nothing necessarily wrong with doing so. Just don't be surprised when your victims treat you the same way in return!

Try to reach one of the friendly or hostile camps. Explore some of the natural landmarks. Deforest the landscape. Spend some time haunting the island as a spirit. Talk to other players. Join a clan with similar goals to your own. And most of all, have fun!

The Derby Hospitallers have compiled a Beginner's Guide on their forums. It should be noted that this guide is strictly opinion and should not be regarded as the best or only guide to life on Shartak. There is a Newcomers Guide which will tell you the basics of the game. For those interested in playing a native (or for general tips) there is also The Native Path.

Skills and advancement

No matter what path you choose for your character, skills will help you. But to skills you must first get experience points (XP). The most popular ways of gaining experience are (in roughly descending order of popularity):

  1. Fighting. The easiest way for new players to gain experience points is to attack and kill animals and other players. If you want to rely on combat for advancement, your first skills should be the three melee combat ones (body building, close quarter combat, and advanced close quarter combat). These will help you deal more damage in combat and thus advance more rapidly for the rest of the game. Just know that aggression toward other players will often make you a prime target.
  2. Healing. Healing is an easy and safe method of earning experience points, so many players learn the skills first aid or natural medicine quite early so that first aid kits or healing herbs (see Items#Consumables) can heal more HP (and thus give more XP) when they're used. Triage is a necessary prerequisite skill which lets you recognize hurt players on your side and thus maximize your XP gains by healing the most heavily wounded players.
  3. Haunting. One of the fastest ways to gain experience is to get the spirit skills, including banshee wail, and then deal damage (and receive XP) by haunting players as a spirit. However, the early stages of haunting yield low XP returns and the entire tree has received some well-deserved power reductions (to about 1.25 XP-per-AP with ideal banshee wails). New players might find this long experience path to be arduous (and boring, since almost no interaction with other characters is possible).
  4. Exploring. Whether you are a fighter, healer, or explorer, trekking is always an important skill, since it reduces many of your movement costs by half. This frees up AP for gaining experience and interacting with other players. You do have to buy exploration as a prerequisite to trekking, but that will give you a nice map and keep you from being lost (thanks to the Shartak Map Overlay). And since recovery from death requires a considerable number of AP, stamina is also a useful skill, since it lets you have more HP and thus makes you harder to kill. Stamina is particularly crucial for characters who travel far from home into hostile territory.

Other important skills

After your first few skills your XP-gathering ability will be sufficient to let you buy the rest of the skills at your leisure and in any order. However, there are some skills not mentioned above that are important enough to merit serious consideration early in the game.

Settlers and villagers should probably buy scavenging, since this appears to increase search odds in resource huts by 50% (meaning that, on average, scavengers find 3 items for every 2 non-scavengers find in the same AP).

Soldiers might consider buying firearms training and advanced firearms training, since the rifle has advantages over a machete that offset the opportunity cost of searching for bullets (see the talk page). Similarly, warriors should consider blowpipe training and advanced blowpipe training. The blowpipe yields an average of 2.4 XP per AP, ignoring reload time and ammo acquisition. (Reload time reduces this to 1.2 XP per AP, and accounting for ammo searches undoubtedly reduces the gain to less than 0.8 XP per AP. For comparison, a machete yields 1.35 XP per AP when used by a player with all three melee skills.) Soldiers and warriors should keep their ranged weapons loaded so they can spend less time reloading when a combat situation arises.

Keep in mind that darts deal delayed damage from poison. (The effects of poison are felt gradually as the target character acts.) When looking at damage throughput rather than experience gains, the warrior's blowpipe is very potent. Because of poison damage, blowpipes inflict roughly 5 HP per combat-AP, which is more than the heavy sword deals. When ammo and reload costs are included that number drops to about 1.6 HP per AP.

Staying alive

Death is a major inconvenience, so you'll want to avoid it as much as possible. The only way to avoid dying is to stay dead as a spirit, but there are many things you can do to help keep yourself alive:

  • Hide. You can't be killed unless a player or animal finds you. Animals are everywhere on the island, but players cluster around camps. If you're a native, avoid the outsider camps of Derby, Durham and York on the island's south shore and the shipwreck on its northwest one. If you're an outsider, avoid the native camps of Dalpok, Raktam and Wiksik in the island's interior. Roads cut in the jungle are also frequently traveled, so you'll be wise to check the uber map to see where these are. Sleeping in a non-resource, non-trader hut is a good idea, since it hides you from anyone who doesn't bother to enter, but if you're in a hostile camp a hut may be more dangerous than the outlying jungle.
  • Get stamina. It increases your HP cap, so if you keep yourself in good health, anyone who finds you will have to spend more AP to kill you. (Body building is a necessary prerequisite.)
  • If you're non-violent toward anyone, say so in your profile. That way, characters with a code of combat ethics like Identify Friend or Foe will be less likely to attack you.
  • Join a clan to protect you from being killed by potential friends or allies, but keep in mind that membership in some clans might make others target you more than they would have otherwise.
  • Remember line-of-sight and movement AP costs and take advantage of them. Sleep 3 or more spaces away from roads, or 3 or more spaces into water. Hide behind a thicket of heavy jungle or beyond a swamp, so that the enemy has to spend AP to approach you and to retreat from you.
  • Keep a general idea of where the wandering shamans are and how far you are from your home camp so that you can minimize AP loss on death. By moving toward the wandering shaman who is closest to your final destination, you might be able to teleport forward rather than backward using the 50AP "Contact Roaming Shaman". You can also take advantage of spirit form to travel safely.
  • Use the forum and wiki to gather a clan or a group of friends who travel together. A large pack of like characters on a single location will dissuade most adversaries.
  • Use the forum and wiki to negotiate for truces and protection agreements when traveling through hostile areas.

Animal combat

Most animals on the island are fairly benign if left alone. However, if you attack them and run out of AP before killing them, don't be surprised if they retaliate while you are gone, even if you've moved a few squares away. If you don't think you'll be able to kill an animal, leave yourself enough AP to put some distance between it and you. Certain animals (such as elephants, tigers, and alligators) should be treated with caution, because they can easily kill an unwary sleeper.

Animals attack reactively during combat, so you should expect to take damage while hunting big game. Not only do you need to carry more first aid kits (or other consumables), you should remember that you will be spending some time healing yourself and will thus have fewer AP per day to attack. As long as you are carrying enough healing items, this is an opportunity for you to gain experience through healing yourself as well as attacking.

It is unwise for self-healers to sleep next to an animal in the hopes of being hurt. If your goal is to have damage inflicted on you, it is probably more efficient and is certainly much safer to eat poisonous berries or be bitten by a shark. Players with combat skills are better off attacking the animal directly and then healing damage dealt by the animal's reactive attacks.


A steady way to gain experience is to load up with harmful items and healing items and to alternately poison and heal yourself. The best ways to do this are to search berry bushes and to drink fresh and salt water from refillable containers.

Poisonous berries

You can collect and eat poisonous berries at a poisonberry bush. Tree searches have about a 55% chance of success (see Locations#Fruit trees and bushes), and there are often poisonberry and tasty berry bushes located within 12 AP of each other. Using poisonberries to hurt yourself and tasty berries to heal yourself:

210 AP = + 60 poison bush searches + 33 munchings (-66 HP)
         + 12 AP trekking
         + 60 tasty bush searches + 33 munchings (+66 HP) = 132 XP

Salt water

A faster and more reliable method is to drink salt water from an empty bottle at the mouth of a river and then move into the river to heal yourself with fresh water drunk in the same way:

133 AP = + 33 fill empty bottle with salt water + 33 drink salt (-66 HP)
         + 1 AP trek between ocean and river
         + 33 fill with fresh water + 33 drink fresh (+66 HP) = 132 XP

This is essentially 1 XP per 1 AP, which is extremely solid XP advancement (and equivalent to a spirit's haunting scream). However, killing animals and people can still be faster for gaining experience.

If you have first aid or natural medicine you can earn XP even faster by searching the local medical hut for first aid kits or healing herbs; the search odds for such items appear to be about 1 in 6 for non-scavengers, and skilled users can heal 10 HP with each one, so 10 HP can be healed for about 7 AP, and you can trade any non-healing items you find for poison berries, empty bottles, and healing items. But if you have no advanced medicine skills, drinking fresh water is the fastest way to heal.

General gameplay advice

  • Spending the night in an opposing side's camp is generally not wise. While few outsiders are immediately violent toward natives, and vice-versa, resting in a populated area greatly increases the odds that someone hostile will find you.
  • Other players can view a statistical, personal history via your profile. If you have killed members of your own or the opposing side, don't expect the relevant group to be hospitable.
  • Be cautious about going to sleep with low HP, even in your own camp. A ghost may find you and finish you off as you sleep.
  • Take advantage of the forum and this wiki to find out about pre-announced conflicts and raids.
  • You can identify nearby characters of the same faction without having to move to their square. Just move your mouse over the text that reads "1 outsider" (or "2 natives", etc.) and wait for their names to appear.
  • You can identify individual characters of other factions that you encounter by whispering to them. Just enter whatever phrase (polite please) that you'd like to use into the speech entry field and select the individual (outsider/native etc instead of -- Everyone --) and click the 'Speak' button. The resulting message will identify who you just whispered to.

Efficient exploration

Maximizing mapped squares per AP

Here's a little animation of getting the most mapped squares for your AP, starting from an ideal position in the corner of 4 map-squares and moving in an overall straight line. This does not take into account chopping jungle and other obstacles. A similar technique can be used to turn corners as well, or even start off in a spiral pattern instead of linear. If there's a more efficient pattern, let us know!

For no loss in vertical efficiency, you can "widen" the column of the search above. Instead of mapping a 3-square-wide rectangle north to south, you'll be mapping a two column wide rectangle north to south with two-square "teeth" on each side. See the following diagrams.

Walking pattern
1|2    |     |
3|4    |     |
 | 5   |     |
 |  6  |     |
 |   7 |     |
 |    8|0    |
 |    9|1    |
 |     | 2   |
 |     |  3  |
 |     |   4 |
 |     |    5|7
 |     |    8|6
 |     |   9 |
Mapped Squares pattern (after 39 moves)


Profile descriptions with blank lines

To add a completely blank line in your description, simply press enter once, type a single space, and press enter again. The space in the middle prevents the double enter from being shrunk to a single <br> tag.

Images for profiles

I'm not all that good with graphics, so I used the South Park Studio to make a simple picture to go on my profile. It lacks a 'Save' function so you have to take a screenshot and crop the image to suit.

When you enter the url of an image, make sure the picture isn't too wide as it looks rather squashed on the page unless you're using a rather high resolution monitor.

  • South Park characters feel out of place in Shartak ,I used Hero Machine for my awsome character.(some people suggest Gaia Character Creator, but personally I hate it) -Grigoriy

Using multiple characters easily

The new updated Shartak profile system allows easier use of multiple characters. Logging in with a Master password allows one to stay logged in and switch between your multiple characters by using the Your Account button.