I've started to really think about upping the intelligence on my character, because simply raising train intelligence is just not cutting it. The XP cost quickly becomes astronomical, and the relative contribution isn't all that high. I spoke to some experienced mages to figure out their tricks of the trade and wound up hearing about some artifacts they like to use to get more intelligence. The Sage's Sash came up, offering a +20 bonus to intelligence at the cost of 15 dexterity and strength. Heureka! This is exactly what I've been looking for, a way to give your character a lot of intelligence at the cost of other stats. The XP system in the game makes it so that there is basically no benefit to trying to raise one single stat extremely high while neglecting the others, By the time you're 20 points ahead it's much cheaper to pull the other stats up than to raise the one you have even further. Actually getting 35 points ahead in one stat on the training skills would be absurd. With this item however you can do it while actually keeping all the stats the same to avoid the absurd XP costs of pushing one of them 70 points higher than the others. I quickly realized however that there was a problem: 1. Shopping in shroud is a nightmare because there are hundreds of vendors and nowhere to see what they have for sale except visiting every single one. 2. The item is rare and expensive, with people asking as much as 200k in gold for it, even though the people who advised me to get one told me about 20k is a reasonable price for it. 3. Apparently there is some kind of artifact combination system pending that has caused the richest players in the game to buy up all of the most popular artifacts. 4. Given that even the combined artifacts will degrade their price will never recover from dozens of them getting crunched to make epic versions. This is exactly the kind of thing that completely turns me off from the gear system in this game. An item that is so essential to defining a character shouldn't be so rare that it's difficult to even find one, let alone afford one if you're not absurdly wealthy in the game. The benefits of wearing a robe as a mage are dubious at best, but this one artifact makes it actually possible to focus on intelligence without requiring insane amounts of XP. The same is true of all sorts of other artifacts. Every single time someone talks about some brilliant 200 attunement build they have there are at least one or two artifacts involved, and everyone acts like they are a reasonable measuring stick for how to play this game, when in reality for the vast majority of players it's completely ridiculous to be tossed into a game where exceedingly rare items are required to make builds, a large number of those items can be combined to make slightly more powerful versions by ultra-wealthy players, and any item degrades and has to be periodically replaced. This is just not a reasonable way to do itemization. I have no problem with people who put in the effort having more powerful items, but if you can't really make a build at all unless you have the rarest items in the game, and then they are made even rarer through a fusion system and a durability system you're basically talking about an absurd barrier of entry into properly equipping characters. Where skills work on a basis of diminishing returns, getting harder and harder to develop, items seem to work the opposite way around, reserving the most vital bonuses for only the rarest equipment, while the things you can readily source as an average player rarely contain bonuses that have a drastic impact on your character.