I recently befriended Sungoon, one of the pioneering Scanian Fire/Poison Mages, when I last returned to playing MapleStory. He ended up converting me to the Fire/Poison fold and I have been forever grateful since. I got a chance to sit down and spew some fiery questions at Sungoon this past January. If you’re looking to join the Fire/Poison family or want to learn about a highly underrated and enjoyable class, continue reading.
Maple Monthly: You have been a prominent leader in the MapleStory Fire/Poison Mage community for years. What inspired you to get involved and help other maplers discover and play this unique class?
Sungoon: Thank you! That means a lot to me! I was inspired to get involved and help other maplers because even as I was starting out, I immediately took notice that the Fire/Poison Mage community, although small, was a very friendly one. I would get help as a F/P noob from other F/P Mages. I was given a Mystic Cane from a F/P Mage when I was still in my level 30s, and I won’t forget that 😛 There was always that sense of family, or, “we’re cool because we’re different,” and I really wanted to be a part of that. Aside from helping out at Basil, I frequently look for new F/P Mages in game and try to help them as far as advice, potions, or items.
MM: For maplers who haven’t heard of you or are new to the game, when did you first join MapleStory and what drew you to Fire/Poison Mages?
S: I first joined MapleStory in December of 2008, which was right after Pirates were released. I knew that I wanted to be a magician character, but I actually had that same struggle that countless others have had—Fire/Poison or Ice/Lightning? It’s hard to say exactly why I chose F/P, but sometimes I get glimpses of how I felt at that time to be a Fire/Poison Mage and I think it was ultimately the feel of the F/P Mage’s skills and the image of a cool F/P Mage (Aimm) that I wanted to fit (and, admittedly, because they were rare).
MM: You have a very identifiable and unique username/IGN. Does it carry a specific meaning and if so, what are its roots?
S: That’s a question I get asked a lot (and they also ask if I’m Korean [and I’m not])! It does not mean Sun Goon (as in a goon of the sun) or Sun Go On. Simply Sungoon. It’s been a while since I made it, so I forgot exactly where I got it from… but now that I think of it, I’m sure it was a mix of Opoona (a game for Wii that I really wanted to play) and Sangan (a YuGiOh card I found while looking for inspiration for a unique username). I’m glad that I took the time back then to make a good, unique username (as opposed to my RuneScape username Mr. Melon22) without numbers or multiple words. And that’s what I think a good IGN is: simple to say, memorable, and not too complicated. And it’s also possible I wanted a username of this variety so that I might one day be remembered.
MM: What is it about Fire/Poison Mages that makes them so unique in your opinion?
S: A large part of what makes them unique (and partly why I was drawn to them) is that they are a rare breed. I think the feature that makes this class stand out is the focus on Poison and Damage over Time. Fire/Poison Mages are the only class in which DoT is a major function. And I’m really glad that Nexon recognizes this (evident by Myst Eruption mechanics, and the specialized skill Fervent Drain)—it’s made for a unique play experience as well.
MM: Can you tell us about the gameplay involved with a Fire/Poison Mage? How does it differ from other magicians and other classes of characters?
S: Because F/P Mages are the DoT class, the gameplay is unique. We have two skills that require DoT stacking: Myst Eruption and Fervent Drain. So, mostly in bossing situations, the F/P Mage is focused on keeping the DoT applied to a boss so that these skills are effective. Not to mention the additive DoT from all of your DoT skills greatly increases your DPM. In grinding, DoT is also a big function. Poison Mist and Viral Slime unlock effective and unique training for Fire/Poison Mages. We have the option to spam skills like other classes, or we could let the DoT from Poison Mist and Viral Slime do the hard work for us. Because of this, F/P Mage training is very unfunded-friendly. It’s definitely a change from the usual hunt-spam-repeat that other classes employ—it’s a bit more involved (but not required).
S: Your guide is loaded with great information for the aspiring Fire/Poison Mage and the seasoned veteran. What inspired you to take on such a project and what specific aspects of your guide do you think set it apart from other Fire/Poison guides out there?
After years of engrossing in Fire/Poison Mage discussion and guides, I felt that it was time for me to contribute all of the information I had collected and interpreted. I thought it was a very opportune moment for me to due so since RED was on the horizon and there was a lack of an in-depth Fire/Poison Mage guide (like Flenaris’s). Speaking of Flenaris, I did have my inspirations. Aimm and Flenaris both made their mark on the F/P community and they were both personal inspirations to me as far as wanting to be like them as I leveled. My guide is almost completely comprehensive and includes more information than you probably need, and it’s giant. I wanted it to be the ultimate resource for any Fire/Poison Mage, and I think that’s what sets it apart from any Fire/Poison Mage guide or guide for any class, really. But, I still have some things to work on! I still have not been around to updating the skill descriptions, effect ranges (and some of them are even misplaced), and skill ratings. I’ve actually finally started on that last weekend! That section will be the next to be updated. I also have plans to add retired skills, old skill animations, and old videos to the history section—I think that would make it a better experience for the reader.
MM: Can you tell us a bit about the history of the Fire/Poison Mage and the path from fire to poison and harmony?
S: Certainly! Fire/Poison Mages are an old class that has a history of unpopularity. In the very beginning, F/P Wizards were not played as much as Clerics or I/Ls because players could find no use for Poison. On top of that, Fire Arrow only hit one monster, while I/Ls had a good mobbing capability and Clerics were valued for their ability to heal and support players. Furthermore, I/L Mages could totally freeze enemies, which was huge during this time period because it reduced potion cost (and funding during this time meant that a player could afford potions, haha!) Then, Poison Brace had a discovered use, but it was very potion-costly and was hard to manage. From the beginning to this point, Fire was really the only practical element, and that’s why we have the terms Fizard (Fire only), Pizard (Poison only [hipsters]), and Hybrid (both Fire and Poison). Even into 4th Job (pre-ascension), Fire was the dominant element. When Ascension came, and with it Mist Eruption, the dominant element became Poison (and even more so since Meteor Shower received a cool down in Big Bang). Many Fire/Poison Mages complained that there weren’t enough Fire spells, and I think that was more than remedied in the RED patch. With it, Fire became the dominant element with a tasteful secondary element of Poison (and this has always been my personal preference).
MM: How important is keyboard setup/mapping in the gameplay of a Fire/Poison Mage? Specific skill tactics?
S: It’s mostly up to preference, but there are certainly layouts that work better than others. For example, I think it’s a good idea to set transportation skills, potions, and frequently used attack skills in a position that is most accessible by your base hand position. I think it’s also good to keep keys that will lag your game away from your base hand position, like Medals, Quests, World Map, and Profession. Specifically for Fire/Poison Mages, you may want to group your DoT skills together so that DoT stacking for Myst Eruption is organized and quicker. Important skill tactics for the Fire/Poison Mage include DoT stacking for Flame Haze + Myst Eruption for damage, Telecasting for efficiency, and others… too many to list and explain fully here, but that information is available in my guide.
MM: Your thoughts on staff vs. wand?
S: Just to let every Wizard/Mage/Archmage out there that this issue is currently, and for the most part, irrelevant. I personally choose staves (or staffs) because they feel a bit more powerful and bad ass. And the wands are more rods than real (or Harry-Potter style) wands. I wish Nexon would get out of the habit of designing wands to be shorter versions of identical staves and vice versa. The only difference is that wands are available two levels earlier than staves (which are available every 5 levels starting at level 10) until the Lv. 120 Reverse/Timeless set, where the pattern stops. Oh, and the elemental staves still require LUK. In short, it’s really up to you. Pick whichever you like best.
MM: Can you tell us anything about your secret Fire/Poison video you have been diligently working on?
S: I would love to have a trailer for you to show, but it’s not finished. I had to move back to my university to start the new semester and I’ve just had no time. Anyways, what it is is a mix of a level 200 celebration video (though I’ve been level 200 for a while now), a F/P inspirational video, and a Maple Music Video in the style of Fantasia. I was inspired to make this video first for the piece of music that I thought closely matched the F/P Mage’s skills. Then I began to draw connections to scenes of the Maple world, but there was the problem of this piece of music lasting 20 minutes. 20 minutes of random F/P skills and Maple world scenes wouldn’t be watchable. I then discovered that this particular piece has a program (i.e. tells a story), which I would then be able to connect to symbolism in the Maple world, which would make it more of a watchable film, and this just makes it more exciting to work on. But unfortunately, I’m making it with the help of my brother who lives an hour away from me except in the summer. So, my hopes are to have this project finished by this summer.
MM: You’re a musician attending university – do you find your music is at times inspired by your Fire/Poison mage or am I just being weird? 😛
S: This is true to an extent, but I think it’s more video games as a whole that inspire how I see music. That’s because video game music serves to enhance the experience and feel of the game and its gameplay. And I think it wouldn’t be too extreme for me to say that Nintendo is so successful for this very reason. They believe that music is vital to the experience of video games, and that’s why everyone knows the Mario Bros. theme, the Legend of Zelda theme, and so on. So, after playing through many games and learning the idioms (i.e. always knowing when you’re about to face a boss or enter a battle just by listening to the music), I can say that video game music is the reason why I value musical character and program music (music that tells a story), and it absolutely affects how I think of music should be, as well.
MM: How do you feel about the current state of MapleStory? Do you think the F/P mage has a fiery future in the game?
S: Regarding MapleStory, I’m very relieved that Nexon has taken measures to enhance the free play experience. I personally think they’ve been doing a good job so far in regards to meeting player demands. The RED update was just what MapleStory needed. It brought huge events, content updates, and a new company-customer relationship—and I think this gave the community just what it was looking for in a period of “nothing to do” and “dead servers.” As far as F/P Mages go… well just look at the RED revamp! It seems that the elemental focus has shifted back to Fire with Poison being the secondary (i.e. non dominant) element. I think we can expect this to stay unchanged for a while or until the rumored fifth job hits (and I honestly can’t begin to speculate). I’m personally very satisfied with the changes RED brought to Fire/Poison Mages, but there are still a few things that need to be fixed. For instance, Inferno Aura, Megiddo Flame, and Teleport Mastery are currently neutral-elemental magic, when it would make perfect sense for them to be Fire-elemental. Also, Megiddo Flame’s dummy attack (MF has a 20% chance to spawn another attack ball) deals no damage. Another more frustrating problem is the spawn position of Poison Mists spawned from Flame Haze. Depending on the boss, the Poison Mist will spawn in a position that is outside of the boss’s hitbox, rendering the Flame Haze + Myst Eruption combo unusable. There also seem to be minor problems with Infinity and Fervent Drain. Don’t fret, though, Fire/Poison Mages are still completely playable!
MM: What do you think MapleStory 2 will do to reimagine the F/P Mage? Are there any specific features/changes you would like to see added?
S: I imagine we will retain most of our skills as they would work wonderfully as 3D AoE skills: Explosion, Poison Mist, Myst Eruption, Meteor Shower, and the others—it would just be awesome! I have a thing for spell circles (the rings in Explosion and Myst Eruption), so I really hope they cross over. I imagine they would be seen on the ground instead of vertically around the character, as it would be somewhat awkward to see a 2D ring appear vertically in a 3D game. I’m personally very hopeful that F/P Mages will make an appearance in MapleStory 2 and I will certainly be trying them out if they do!