The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 4: In Over Our Heads

Update 4: In Over Our Heads

Last time, Freude got a little too dive happy and ended up at 850' thanks to a Scroll of Deep Descent.

That skeleton is just a kobold, nothing to worry about. Monsters, like Freude, can go way deeper into the dungeon than they really ought to. We'll still be seeing Snagas (the basic orc-type enemy) in the endgame. Not often, but they'll be around.

The game is taunting us. "You want to keep going downwards, right? Well, here's a staircase. Heck, have two of 'em!" No thanks game, we'll actually explore this level.

We get ambushed by a Panther. Panthers are fast and have two 1d10 attacks per round, so they can put out a fairly high amount of damage. Like most melee-only enemies, they aren't much of a threat if they show up on their own. It's when the game starts throwing combinations at you that you have to be careful.

You have removed the rubble. The Illusionist conjures up weird things. You are confused! The Illusionist hits you.

Seems like the monster density has gone up, anyway. Illusionists are kind of silly: they're fast spellcasters, but they forgot to bring any actually damaging spells to the party. They can blind, confuse, paralyze, slow, cause darkness, teleport themselves, and haste themselves (giving a ludicrous 3 turns per round)...and they have a puny 2d2 melee attack.

Like with the Cutpurses and Apprentices, Illusionists like to hang out with other "adventurer" monsters; in this case, a couple of brigands who both fail to steal anything before running away. I'm starting to think my understanding of the theft code is flawed, because we shouldn't be successfully avoiding theft quite so often.

Something hisses. You are hit by acid! Your Wicker Shield is damaged!

Around about now is when having only a radius-1 light source and no magical monster detection starts sucking. This turns out to be a water vortex:

Vortices exist for practically every type of "elemental" damage in the game, and there are a crapton of elements. Water vortices deal acid damage, either by "breathing" it or with their melee attacks. Vortices are always awake and can bash down doors, but they're usually too fragile to be much more than an annoyance. There are a few elements that have exceptionally dangerous side-effects, though, and the vortices for those elements are a legitimate threat.

You hit the Water vortex (12). You hit the Water vortex (10). You hit the Water vortex (8). The Water vortex engulfs you. You are covered in acid! Your Cloak is damaged!
You hit the Water vortex (10). You hit the Water vortex (9). You hit the Water vortex (9). You have destroyed the Water vortex. Welcome to level 13.

Our armor's in sorry shape. That Cloak is now literally worthless; all it's doing is weighing us down (it can't even absorb any more acid attacks). I ditch it. Our AC is pretty low for where we are in the dungeon; fortunately our offense is still strong enough to kill things quickly.

As an aside, you may notice that the rooms on this level aren't lit up. In the early game, most rooms are permanently lit, so you can see everything in them when you enter. As you get deeper into the dungeon, fewer and fewer rooms get lit, until at level 20 (1000') none of them are. There are spells and items that can provide this light, but we haven't found any yet.

A short time later, we run into one of those thieving Brigands from earlier.

You hit the Brigand (9). You miss the Brigand. You hit the Brigand (12). The Brigand flees in terror!
Your Arrow (+3,+4) {@f1} hits the Brigand (15). The Brigand dies. You have 30 Arrows (+3,+4) {@f1}

Behind him is his buddy (similarly dispatched), and then this guy:

You hit the Master yeek (9). You hit the Master yeek (9). You hit the Master yeek (8). The Master yeek hits you.

Oh no! A Master yeek! Yeeks are almost literally joke monsters; master yeeks are barely credible threats when you first run into them, having some basic attack spells. By now he's mostly notable for being able to survive a round in melee; his brethren can't boast such endurance.

He does drop a staff, though.

You sense the presence of invisible creatures!

Ehh; just a Poltergeist. Might as well hang onto the staff for now.

After closing the loop on this section of dungeon, something happens that I honestly expected earlier:

Your light is growing faint.

Torches only last 5000 rounds, and this one's just about spent.

Your light has gone out!

Make that fully spent. Well, this is why we have spares.

Now check this out:

Three traps that Freude just stumbled into. A slowing dart up north, a dart in the corridor that we managed to dodge, and a confusion gas trap. We have really got to get some kind of trap detection; the longer this goes on, the more likely we are to run into a trap when we really can't afford it.

A wolfpack, a pack of Mirkwood Spiders, a Copperhead Snake, and some Acolytes. The monster density has definitely gone up.

Group animals have an adjusted AI that tries to ambush you in rooms -- it's not willing to attack you if you're in a corridor. See:

This is abusable for now, but eventually we'll meet monsters with this AI who have ranged attacks, and they're a royal pain in the ass.

The wolves go down quickly; while they're fast, they have little health and not much in the way of attacks. Meanwhile, those Mirkwood Spiders are fast, have three attacks per round (1d8 bite, 1d6 poison bite, 1d6 poison bite), and have enough HP to take 2-3 rounds to kill, each.

You hit the Mirkwood spider (9). You hit the Mirkwood spider (9). You miss the Mirkwood spider. The Mirkwood spider bites you. The Mirkwood spider misses you. The Mirkwood spider bites you. You are poisoned! The Mirkwood spider bites you. The Mirkwood spider bites you. You are more poisoned! The Mirkwood spider bites you. You are more poisoned!

Sure, we've only taken 16 damage so far, but this could still be trouble. Fortunately, like the wolves, spiders don't like to attack if they can't surround you:

However, if they think you're almost dead, then they'll attack anyway. So I have a Cunning Plan.

Step 1: get Freude's shit kicked in a bit.

The Mirkwood spider bites you. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! *** You are more poisoned!

That should do it. (71/173 HP left)

Step 2: Step into the corridor -- now the spiders will follow us! And, uh, hit us for another 48 damage, leaving us with just 22 after the poison takes effect. Yikes. Well, y'know what? Let's not fight these guys, and say we did.

Read which scroll?
Really read 3 Scrolls titled "nimum ormoncto" of Teleportation {!*}?
You have 2 Scrolls titled "nimum ormoncto" of Teleportation {!*}. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***

And we're back over here, relatively safe and sound. Freude slams down 4 potions of Cure Light Wounds to get his HP back up over 50% just in case those spiders feel like chasing him. And then I remember that Banyan Staff we've been lugging around.

You feel much better. You have 5 charges remaining.

Great, a Staff of Cure Light Wounds. These things are more or less junk -- potions are relatively plentiful and work every time. Staffs on the other hand have a failure rate, and that rate goes up when you're blind, confused, or otherwise mentally impaired. Not something you want on your healing gear! Still, it's worth carrying this staff around for healing until it runs out of charges.

Unfortunately, we still don't have anything to cure poison, so we'll just have to wait that out.

Well, some of the spiders came to play after all. Fortunately, they're away from the rest of the pack, so we can pick them off here and get some revenge.

Finally, about 50 turns later, the poison wears off and we can rest up to full HP. Then I spot this guy:

Meet Brodda the Easterling! Flavor text:

A nasty piece of work, Brodda picks on defenseless women and children.

He's native to 450', so we ought to be able to take him without trouble, but the room he's in probably connects to the spiders to the south, so best to stick to corridors and draw him to us. Fortunately we have this bow!

Target out of range by 1 squares. Fire anyway?

There's no point in shooting at this range; the arrow will just stop, harmlessly, one square short. Moving closer takes me into the room, and sure enough, spiders start coming to play. I shift Freude's attention to them, ducking in and out of the corridor so he doesn't get surrounded while shooting the spiders down. Fortunately all the noise finally wakes Brodda up and he gives chase.

Perfect. A few rounds of combat, and we ought to have him on the ropes.

You hit Brodda, the Easterling (7). You miss Brodda, the Easterling. You hit Brodda, the Easterling (8). Brodda the Easterling misses you. Brodda, the Easterling hits you. Brodda, the Easterling hits you. Brodda, the Easterling hits you. Brodda, the Easterling hits you. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***

Clearly the game doesn't agree with my narrative structure; Brodda is provinng unexpectedly resilient. Time to fall back a bit, I think; we need some room to work in.

Oh, of course the spiders are following!

A quick Phase Door takes us into the room, but they'll be here in a few turns. Brodda's blocking the spiders so they can't give chase as quickly, fortunately.

You feel very good. You have an Icky Green Potion of Cure Serious Wounds.
You feel better. You feel bold. You feel like a hero! You have 9 Light Green Potions of Heroism.
You feel much better. You feel even bolder! You feel like a killing machine! You have no more Orange Speckled Potions of Berserk Strength.

Berserk Strength is Heroism only moreso -- bigger HP restore, bigger to-hit bonus, but it penalizes your AC instead of boosting it. And now we're near-fully-healed and ready to take down all comers.

Not in melee though. That would be silly. Instead, we snipe Brodda and his entourage to death.

Whenever he gets close...

We Phase Door away.

After a couple passes, he's weak enough to take down in a single round of melee.

You hit Brodda, the Easterling (29). It was a great hit! You hit Brodda, the Easterling (12). You hit Brodda, the Easterling (8). You have slain Brodda, the Easterling.

Phase Door + ranged weaponry gives the "Shoot 'n Scoot" technique, and it'll beat down melee-oriented enemies quickly as long as you can fight them one-on-one.

Brodda drops a Great Hammer (8d1) that pseudos as excellent. Could be worthwhile; let's burn an Identify on it.

Or not. Don't get me wrong, it's nearly as powerful as our rapier even though we only get 1.1 blows/round with it (28 damage with the hammer vs. 33 damage with the rapier), but that doesn't make it worth using. We don't fight enough dangerous undead for the slay to be relevant, and it's so heavy that it's going to be a long time before we get lots of blows with it.

Nice damage bonus, though.

Anyway, that was a fun fight. The spiders are too few in number to be a threat any more, so we can keep exploring.

Clearing out those Acolytes from awhile back (and their attendant Scout and Gallant -- the ranger and paladin novice adventurers) turns up a Scroll of Treasure Detection, which gives us some direction to explore in:

The items in rooms we'd already explored were one of our arrows and the empty Staff of Cure Light Wounds. En route to the others, we take down a Grizzly Bear and net level 15 (196 max HP).

That green "," is a stack of slime molds! I don't know why, but slime molds are something of an in-joke in roguelikes. They're just random food items, but they're in NetHack too (though you can rename them to something more appetizing if you like). Some Angband players have been known to collect them in the home. People are strange.

There's also an un-ID'd wand, and our inventory is full again. I ditch the Staff of Detect Invisible and find a safe place to read our scrolls:

The longer it takes us to find the Scroll of Summon Monster, the more dangerous it gets.

You feel righteous! You have no more Scrolls titled "nus infer exse" of Holy Chant.
Blessing, but it lasts longer. Yawn.

Enchant which item?
Your Rapier glows brightly! You have no more Scrolls titled "ex ho se odio" of Enchant Weapon To-Dam.

Sweet! Our (+4,+3) rapier is now (+4,+4)! Enchantment scrolls come in armor, to-hit, and to-dam varieties. They have a failure rate, but it scales with how heavily-enchanted the item is. Generally it's not worth trying to enchant items above +10 or +11.

If you do manage to find a cursed item that you want to use (for example, a cursed artifact), then enchantment scrolls also have a chance of breaking the curse.

Our last scroll turns out to be Enchant Weapon To-Hit, so we now have a (+5,+4) rapier

And with that, we seem to have explored the entire level. Here's what it looks like:

We've gained three levels, our weapon is a bit stronger, and we've taken down another unique monster. This seems like a good point to stop for the day. We won't be fully-exploring every level from here on out, but as long as we're behind the power curve, it pays to slow down a bit. Soon enough we'll be ready to dive again.