Forming a Party in Ultima III: Exodus

For the first and only time in the Ultima series, Ultima III allows you to create every character in your party. Your maximum party size is four, and while the manual claims that you can recruit members, this is not actually true. Aside from combat progressing a bit quicker (but being harder), there is no significant advantage in creating a party of less than four characters. Your single character will level faster, but especially later on you will want to have more HP to go around to survive some brutal fights.

There are no spells or abilities that are absolutely vital to your success in Ultima III, so in theory any combination of races and types will allow you to finish the game. However, a good setup will make things quite a bit easier.

General Considerations

Before deciding who to include in your party, you need a solid understanding of how the party works and what your priorities should be.


In combat, your party members will start off in two rows. Your first two characters make up the front row (with character #1 on the left) and your last two characters make up the back row (with character #3 on the left). Therefore, it's a good idea to have two well-defended characters at the front of your party. Further, if one character has significantly more offensive potential than the rest of the party, you may want to put the least effective character on the same side of the party to balance your damage-dealing potential.

There is one non-combat factor that can contribute to party order. When in dungeons, your chance to disarm a trap is based on the skill of your first character. Therefore, you should put a Thief (if you have one) or a type with "some" steal and disarm at the front of your party if you know you will be running across traps. Traps can be pretty nasty, so this trumps your combat formation.

Weapons and Armour

Each type has its own set of allowed weapons and armour. One of the biggest issues with this is that the Exotics and Exotic Armours are both the most powerful in the game, and usable by everyone. They can even be found pretty early on (as soon as you get a Frigate) if you don't wait until you've found the appropriate hints in game. Exotic Armour completely negates the armour restrictions of most types, making them much less of a factor in your decision making. Even if you don't hunt down the Exotic Armours early, you can easily wait to complete the toughest dungeons until you have them.

On the other hand, weapon selection is always important because the Exotics are melee weapons. Ranged weapons are tremendously useful in Ultima III, so the best ranged weapon available to a given type is always a big factor. There are four types (Fighter, Paladin, Barbarian, and Lark) which have access to every weapon, including the +4 Bow. Rangers can use a +2 Bow, while Thieves are restricted to the normal Bow. All other types can use only Daggers at range. Keep these factors in mind when choosing types for your party.

Spells and Abilities

Spell selection in Ultima III is entirely based on your current MP—if you have the MP to cast a spell of the correct type, you can do so. Therefore, the max MP of a given race/type combination is the main determining factor in their spell selection. As a result, you'll want to choose your spellcasters carefully, and more importantly choose their race carefully.

Fortunately, most of the really useful spells have low MP costs and can be used by multiple types. Sur Acron/Rec Su and Dor Acron/Rec Du cost 25 MP or less, and Lorum spells are even cheaper. Sanctu grants access to healing for only 10 MP. The useful high-MP spells tend to be cleric spells, which include Sanctu Mani and Surmandum. These spells are only available to Clerics, making them the singular most useful type in the game.

Character Death

Ultima III automatically saves when you enter or leave any towne or dungeon, so beware if anyone in the party dies. Death isn't the end, but resurrection is expensive. A far worse fate is if the entire party dies, because the game will save in that case as well. (Which seems kind of cruel, doesn't it?) Fortunately, even this is not the end, because you have the ability to change the party at any time.

From the Organize a Party menu, you can Disperse the party at any time, then Form a new one. This allows you to create a new set of characters, or replace dead characters you can't afford to resurrect right now. Newly Formed parties also appear near the Castle of Lord British, a fact you can use to warp there quickly if you want (by Dispersing and re-Forming the same party).

Character Types

I'm not really sure why early Ultima games call character classes "types," but the terms are interchangeable. The four basic types are Fighter, Cleric, Wizard, and Thief, and the other 7 types tend to be a mix of two or more of these. A standard party will try to address the abilities of each basic type, but none of them are strictly necessary. I will go through each basic type in turn and lay out your options.

Fighter Types

These types are notable for their ability to use a wide variety of weapons and armour. They tend to rely on strength most, followed by dexterity. As mentioned above, weapon selection is more important than armour selection because of the Exotic Armour. The three basic hybrids are the Barbarian (which adds some steal and disarm from the Thief type), Paladin (which casts cleric spells), and Lark (which casts wizard spells). All of these sub-abilities are less useful than their primary types. That said, in the long run there's no particular advantage to a straight Fighter, so these hybrids are appealing. There is a fourth hybrid of note, the jack-of-all-trades Ranger. They have a slightly restricted weapon selection but get minor abilities from every type. I recommend having a Paladin or Ranger in the party just for the extra Sanctu.

Cleric Types

The Cleric is the most useful basic type, because their exclusive spells are extremely helpful. Their martial hybrids, the Paladin and Illusionist, are useful but can't really replace a cleric. The Druid is an interesting class, with a bonus MP regen ability that can make them quite appealing when combined with their ability to use both cleric and wizard spells. However, Druids don't get access to the better healing spells, and the advantage of their MP regen is somewhat negated by their lower max MP.

Wizard Types

Unlike the Cleric, Wizards are not really vital. They have exclusive access to some nasty attack spells, but they cost so much MP that they'll typically leave the Wizard spent and useless for all the subsequent battles. If you're looking for utility magic, the various Wizard hybrids are a good bet. The Alchemist can serve as a pseudo-Thief, while the Lark is a powerful fighter with magic ability. (Their main disadvantage, the inability to use heavy armour, is not an issue in the long run.) If you like to cast spells all the time, consider adding a Druid. They have access to cleric spells as well as wizard spells (and thus, healing) and regain MP faster than any other class.

Thief Types

You have an important decision to make as far as Thieves go. You only need one character in the party with the steal and disarm skill (and that character needs a lot of Dexterity). A Thief is the best at using this skill, but isn't great at anything else. If you have a Thief, there isn't much point in including any of its hybrids (save maybe a Ranger). On the other hand if you do not include a Thief, you almost certainly want to include one of those hybrids. An Alchemist is a good idea if you aren't looking for powerful attack spells, while an Illusionist makes an excellent utility character. The Barbarian is, in the long run, every bit as good as a Fighter but with some ability to avoid traps. Finally, the Ranger is a good choice because they can do practically anything.


For the most part, the optimal race for a given type is pretty obvious. Spellcasters need Int and/or Wis, based on their spell type, anyone with steal and disarm needs Dex, and front-line fighters need Str and Dex. Thus Dwarves make the best fighters, Elves make the best thieves, Bobbits make the best clerics, and Fuzzies make the best wizards. For hybrid classes, choose your race based on which part you'd like to emphasize, while making sure you don't have a low stat maximum in any important stats. Humans are almost never optimal choices (with the possible exception of the Ranger), but can be viable for certain hybrids.

Of course, there is another way to look at this. If you're an Ultima purist like me and want to ret-con the game into working with the mythology, you should only use Human characters. None of the other races appear in later games (in fact, none of them explicitly appear as NPCs in any Ultima). This will make your characters, especially spellcasters, less powerful, but the game is still beatable. If you're an obsessive purist (also like me), see the final section of this document.

Putting it All Together

The real question is what kind of party you want to have. If you like magic, spring for a lot of mage types and their hybrids. If you prefer a standard knock-down drag-out style, stick with classes that can fight without magic. Because of all the hybrid types, you can cover all the important bases and still have a lot of leeway in your choices. I would recommend, at the very minimum:

  • Two types capable of fighting on the front lines. In the long run, everyone can use Exotic Armour, but for much of the game you'll have to rely on mundane armour instead.
  • One type with at least some steal and disarm.
  • One type who can cast basic healing spells.

Beyond that, it's up to you. If you want to make things easier, a Cleric is a solid choice. If you like to thoroughly explore dungeons and/or rob people blind, make sure to include a Thief. Let you style of play determine your choices, and remember that you can always swap out party members later if you need to.

For the Ultima Purist

Anyone familiar with later Ultima games knows that the series takes quite a bit of a turn starting with Ultima IV. There are no more clerics or non-human races, and the structure of the game changes quite a bit. The idea that the hero of Ultima I-III is not only the same person, but the person who will become the Avatar, doesn't appear for quite a while. Still, if you want, you can set up your party to make sense within the overall Ultima context, if you're so inclined. It will make the game more challenging, but it can be fun.

The first rule is to only use Human characters. This will make the game a bit more challenging, especially if you like spellcasters. Type restrictions are a bit trickier. You could just get rid of Clerics and call it a day, but while Ultima has only one magic system going forward, that system has resurrection and whatnot in addition to attack spells. Really any type can be justified in one way or another. The only real hybrid caster is the Druid, which is not a bad choice but lacks the high-level spells you might want.

The other question is, of course, who should be in the party. Your main character is your own, as ever. (If you want to use the exact same main character for the entire series, they'd have to be male, but otherwise it doesn't really matter as long as they're Human). You could try completing the game solo, which is difficult but possible. (In this case I'd recommend a Ranger for an Avatar-like breadth of abilities.) You could make up party members, who are never to be heard from again. Or you could use some future companions. However, several of those (Iolo, Shamino, Dupre, and Sentri) appear in Ultima III, so you'll want to avoid them. Here are the remaining choices from Ultima IV:

  • Geoffrey: Male Human Fighter
  • Jaana: Female Human Druid
  • Julia: Female Human Thief (it's not clear what type a tinker is equivalent to, but I felt they should have steal and disarm—Barbarian is statistically appropriate but not really thematically appropriate for Julia)
  • Katrina: Female Human Fighter (there's no equivalent to a shepherd either, but honestly I would just avoid using Katrina)
  • Mariah: Female Human Wizard