The Importance Of Normal Save
One of the things I wasn't aware of when starting on my altering path was normal save. There is a lot of talk about elemental saves, but not much about the power of normal saves. This is too bad because saving yourself from normal damage is one of the most powerful saves, and one of the most difficult to build up. This is easiest to do for someone who has warrior as their first or second class, but there are also great options for other classes if you put in the time.
The Mage Spell Crystal Coat
In my experience this is usually one of the last mage defensive spells most non mages get, something I was also guilty of. The spell is unlocked at level 16 mage and requires 35 mana, 22 intelligence, and 18 wisdom. These aren't unachievable stats, but the list of prerequisite spells seem to make most people hesitate in learning it. You first need crystal light, then shards, but these both require minimal practices. If you can put in the time to get the elemental shields, then crystal coat is a necessity.
At the lowest level crystal coat will give you 5% saves from fire, ice, electric, and the all important normal damage. The percentage of the saves go up with your mage cast level, but this won't be something most people will be able to change without being a first class mage. Using a wand with a level 50 crystal coat will give a whopping 20% saves across the board, including normal damage, and this is a huge boost, even more than the warrior skill armored skin.
Necromancer Skill Summon Demon Familiar
This skill is unlocked at level 13 necromancer, and is one of the best necro skills for a 5th or 6th class necro. It only requires a soul stone of any color, and the prerequisite skill of demon lore. There is no stat requirement or mana cost. When you summon a demon familiar it joins your group and follows you around. It's only purpose is to give you a boost to certain character stats depending on the demon you summon. To get a 5% boost to normal save you summon the Black Horned Demon, and that's all there is to it. You'll get a small boost in HP, and 5% extra normal save.
A few things to keep in mind with summoning demon familiars. The color of the soul effects the amount of the boost, but it won't go over 5% normal save. Also without staying in necro cast, it isn't worth using anything over a pale blue soul stone. If you don't have souls just purchase one from the soul market. This can be done with the command 'SM buy color -f'. Other demons give other effects which may be useful as well, you can do 'help summon demon familiar' in game to get more info about the different colors of demons. Finally it takes a few minutes for the demon's effect to show up on your character, and it effects everyone else in your group as well.
The Warrior Skill Armored Skin
This is one of the most powerful warrior skills, and also the owner of perhaps the most useless help file in game. "it is thought to lend protection in battle as a last line of defense." That is directly from the in game help file, and tells...well exactly nothing. What it should say is you can expect a default normal save of 15% with the skill at 100%. The kicker is the level requirement of level 29 warrior. This tends to put it out of reach of anyone who isn't a first or second class warrior, but they are also the ones absorbing the most normal damage in fights.
What makes it so powerful is how it's passive. This means you just have to learn it and that's it, nothing else has to be done. I don't recall what the normal save is before the skill is up to 100%, but even if it is only at 5% it is well worth it. Since nothing has to be done on your part, it is the most powerful tool for a warrior to protect against normal damage. To get the skill to go up you just have to fight, and you'll be doing that anyway.
The Druid Spell Thorn Armor
This is another class specific spell since it isn't unlocked until level 30 druid, but a very powerful spell all the same. Not only does it give 5% normal save, it also gives an armor boost of +25. These together make it unique, and very good for combat defense. You don't need to be a druid to use the spell though, you just need to know a druid who is willing to make and recharge spell staffs.
I'm a 6th class druid, but I almost always have a thorn armor up when running EXP. This is because I use thorn armor spell staffs made by and charged by druids in clan snoodashiff. Not only do the staffs cast the spell on me, but also on all other people and minions in the same room as me. This also includes mobs though, so be careful. This is a very valuable rechargeable consumable to keep in your bag. A armor and normal save boost for you and all your minions is always useful.
There are a lot of different options for boosting your normal save. It isn't like other saves where you can just wear a piece of equipment to help,, but that's because it is so powerful. If you put in the time you can go into normal damage areas and reduce your damage by a very high amount. Once you get your normal save up to 40% you'll notice you can even fight without a sanctuary in some places, and this can increase the amount of EXP you get per kill. With 40% and also a sanctuary, you'll have quite the formidable resistance to damage in the right areas, and this allows you to survive in areas above your level.