The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 6: Too Many Elves

Update 6: Too Many Elves

Welcome back! Last time, Freude had an enjoyable little scuffle with several unique monsters and picked up his first artifact: the longsword "Elvagil". One thing I neglected to note last time is that Elvagil gives See Invisible, which is a useful property, as dangerous invisible monsters will start showing up soon. Being able to see what you're fighting is kind of important!

Anyway, we've accomplished about enough here at 1000', and conveniently we're right next to a staircase!

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 1050')

Looks like a checkerboard moated room to our southwest; that could be worth checking out. First I head west and start chewing through some snagas and black orcs, when this jolly fellow shows up:

That's Shagrat, the Orc Captain! We're really mowing down the orc uniques in a hurry today. Like usual, we pull back to a corridor so we don't get overwhelmed:

Shagrat, unlike Golfimbul and Grishnakh, is actually close to in-depth; he's native to 950. His attacks are correspondingly stronger (2x 3d8 and 2x 3d5) and he has 400 HP. Our new sword is working nicely on him, though, so it's just about an even damage race.

You smite Shagrat, the Orc Captain (79). It was a great hit! You smite Shagrat, the Orc Captain (27). Shagrat, the Orc Captain hits you. Shagrat, the Orc Captain misses you. Shagrat, the Orc Captain hits you. Shagrat, the Orc Captain hits you.

By the time he starts running away, we still have 96 HP left.

Of course, that just leaves the way open for his black orc escort to start attacking. Black orcs, like uruks, can fire arrows, so standing in plain sight of the entire room is a poor strategy. Backing up again, we can make it so only one or two orcs can see us at a time:

Controlling line-of-sight (LOS) like this is a vital aspect of Angband combat in the mid- and late-game, when most enemies have nasty ranged abilities that they will happily spam at you.

Eventually, Shagrat comes back:

But he hasn't really healed any, so

You smite Shagrat, the Orc Captain (108). It was a superb hit! You have slain Shagrat, the Orc Captain. Welcome to level 21.

He dropped some Studded Leather Armor, which couldn't be worse than the unenchanted Studded Leather Armor we're currently using. It instantly pseudos as magical, so there's nothing really interesting about it.

Down here we encounter some Clear Hounds. Unlike every other zephyr hound in the game, Clear Hounds have no breath attack. However, they are invisible, and if you can see them they have the unusual property of taking their color from whatever they're standing on. Hence they're yellow in our torchlight, green when they're standing on the trap detection border, and white when merely seen via infravision.

They're also total chumps and go down in 1-2 hits apiece. The Drider in that shot barely lasts longer.

At this point I'd like to check out that moated room. Only problem is it's a long walk to get there. But there's always the direct route...

You tunnel into the quartz vein. <53x> You have finished the tunnel.

For all that that was a lot of tunneling, walking would have been even slower!

Then we get almost killed by a saber-toothed tiger. Dang thing has entirely too many hitpoints.

One more wall down...

The Fire spirit hits you. You are enveloped in flames! The Fire spirit hits you. You are enveloped in flames! One of your Scrolls titled "inus veo us" of Trap Detection was destroyed!

And that's the problem with elemental damage. We have so many scrolls kicking around in our inventory that it's a practical certainty we'll lose some of them. This is why all of the really important ones, like Word of Recall, are multiply-backed up. At least none of our staves burned up!

(The bat is just a Fruit Bat; I don't think it can even hit us any more)

The moated room has a pack of wolves, whose AI glitches out -- they can't surround us because we're in the moat, but the moat counts as "in a room" so they attack anyway. Suits me fine.

Then, I do something dumb.

The Purple mushroom patch releases spores at you. You feel very sickly.

There's never a good reason to walk next to purple mushroom patches; like all mushrooms they have only 1 hitpoint. The CON loss is only a mild irritant; we lost a half-dozen HP or so. CON gives you bonus hitpoints based on your level: at 18/10 it's 1.75, while at 18 (where we are now ), it's 1.5. Oddly, HP bonuses due to CON have accelerating returns instead of the more usual diminishing returns, so it's always valuable to pump your CON, up until you hit the cap.

The room yields a couple of un-ID'd scrolls that turn out to be Teleport Level, a Tin-Plated Wand of Clone Monster (junk -- the clone and the original both get fully-healed when you use it, and the clone gets hasted), and an average Whip. Well, Teleport Level makes an excellent last-ditch escape; if the entire level is out for your blood, then there's nothing quite like leaving for a new one in a single turn.

On the way out of that room, I have to chop through 73 giant grey rats. Stupid breeders...

Whoops, and here's an excellent reason to be paranoid about Free Action.

The Homunculus hits you. You resist the effects! The Homunculus hits you.

Homunculi are low-level demons, and one of the first enemies in the game to have a paralytic melee attack. If you lack free action then these guys can put you out of commission in a hurry.

In previous versions, paralysis could stack -- while you were paralyzed, more paralysis could be applied, creating an inescapable death spiral. This could happen even with Floating Eyes, an early stationary enemy whose attack deals no damage -- thus leaving you no option but to page through thousands of combat messages until your character finally starved to death.

Relatively recently, paralysis was changed so that you always got at least one turn before new paralysis could be applied. A homunculus on its own isn't likely to kill you unless you're already badly hurt. Still, getting paralyzed in melee is Bad News; I've only had one character survive it post-750'.

Fortunately, our gloves protect us.

On our way out, we run into these guys:

You hit the Gnome mage (21). The Gnome mage casts a phase door.

Ga-nat? Is that you?

Gnome mages show up in groups and are notable for being able to summon monsters. They have a few other spells too, but the summoning is the big one. Stand in a room with a bunch of gnome mages and the situation could easily get out of hand in a hurry.

This isn't the best LOS manipulation ever, but it's better than nothing.

One of them dropped a couple more Potions of Speed! Now we could probably take on a few of the nastier uniques at our depth. Another dropped a treasure chest:

Chests generally contain nice stuff, but they are almost invariably trapped. The problem is that about 5% of them aren't trapped, but you can never tell if there's actually no trap or if you've just failed to find the trap yet. Opening a chest without finding a trap and disarming it first can be nervewracking.

This one was trapped, but easily disarmed, and contained about 500AU of silver and copper. Won't say no!

Also dropped: some scrolls that turn out to be Summon Undead. It's a good thing we've switched to pre-emptively identifying consumables before using them! Still haven't found the plain old Summon Monster scrolls...

This is how you deal with zephyr hounds. By standing where we are, only the one Cold Hound that moves into the room can get LOS on us. As long as we can kill one hound per turn, no hounds can breathe on us because they'll always move northeast into the room instead of east or southeast. If we stood one tile to the south, then both the hound in melee range, and the one just behind it, would be able to see us (because Angband has weird asymmetric LOS rules).

Freude can't kill one Cold Hound per turn Still, this ends up working a lot better than trying to take them on in a corridor would have -- they'd have simply run away while pelting us with cold breaths, breaking our potions.

Killing the last one gets us level 22, restoring our CON in the process. 266 max HP! Conveniently, we finally found a down staircase.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 1100')

We're starting out in the middle of the level this time, and in a moated room to boot. We could get surrounded easily here. Usually you want to stick to the edges of the level if possible.

Exploring around, we find a magical shortbow (+3,+4) -- good enough to replace our longbow. Then we find the door when it bursts open, and this happens:

Something breathes. You are hit by something! You are blind. The Light hound resists.

Light Hounds, like Dark Hounds, are kind of a pain. They're weak, but their light breath causes blindness. Fortunately they have the same AI problem the wolves had, and march into our attacks even when we can't see them.

You blink and your eyes clear. Wormtongue, Agent of Saruman hits you. Wormtongue, Agent of Saruman hits you. Wormtongue, Agent of Saruman touches you. Your purse feels lighter. 276 coins were stolen! Wormtongue, Agent of Saruman insults your mother! There is a puff of smoke!

Oh no he didn't. I'll have you know Freude's mom is a fine, upstanding lady! His dad, well, rest his soul, but humans should not try to engage in traditional trollish beer pong.

We have a mission for this level! Commence Operation Fishfood.

Just as soon as we finish checking out shiny stuff.

You see Red Dragon Scale Mail [24].

Heck yes!

You were wearing Studded Leather Armor (-1) [12,+4]. You are wearing Red Dragon Scale Mail of Craftsmanship [24] {excellent}.

All dragon scale mails give resistance to the applicable element or elements (fire, in this case), which cuts damage generally by half to 2/3rds. They also have solid defenses and are relatively lightweight. This one has a Craftsmanship enchantment which just gives it some extra AC (which we'll see as soon as we're attacked). Finally, dragon scale mails have one other handy ability...

You breathe fire. The Zombified human disintegrates!

Yes, yes, this should serve us nicely indeed

Incidentally, that "disintegrates" message is the special text for when you kill a fire-vulnerable monster with fire damage. There's similar text for cold ("freezes and shatters!") and acid ("dissolves!"), and there ought to be one for electricity, but I can't find it in the source code

A couple of Dark Elven Mages. Like their priestly brethren they move quickly, but they honestly have less dangerous spells, and they can't heal themselves. Our bastard sword can one-hit them with a good roll. One of them drops this amulet:

If you were really super desperate for Free Action you might consider using this, but honestly it's terrible. -2 to speed effectively means -20% to everything you do, ever, which is a horrific penalty.

Like with the various adventurer groups, there turn out to be a lot of dark elves here; we take out 3 mages, four priests, a dark elven warrior, and then I find out just why there are so many dark elves here:

You see a Dark elven lord.

These guys (the grey 'h'; the brown one is a warrior) are badasses, and really not worth fighting at this point. They move quickly, have strong melee, can cast a passel of aggravating spells (including Haste Self, which really isn't fair), and as we've discovered tend to show up with friends. Normally I wouldn't bother fighting this guy, but hey, we have some new armor.

You breathe fire. The Large wooden chest burns up! The Scrolss titled "quae or mo" of Identify burn up! The Light Crossbow burns up! You hear a scream of agony! You hear a scream of agony! You hear a scream of agony! The Dark elven lord dies. The Dark elven mage dies. The Dark elven warrior dies.

Right now we're taking advantage of Angband's weird asymmetric LOS rules. We can see, and hit with projectiles, all three monsters here. But only two of them can see and cast spells at us; the Lord is blocked. This is sometimes referred to as "hockey-sticking", and if you feel like being a cheating bastard you can sometimes take out enemies without them ever getting a chance to attack you by abusing LOS in this way.

Alas, we lost a lot of loot there. That crossbow could have been very worthwhile indeed. Still, worth it to avoid fighting a dark elven lord; he would have worked us over.

The Dark elven lord concentrates on his body. The Dark elven lord starts moving faster.

Um, guys? Didn't we just kill you?

Oh dear, I think I know what's going on. If I'm right, then there are entirely too many dark elves on this level. We miiiiiight not be able to handle this. Still, nothing ventured and all that. We got some replacement potions of Speed, so I don't mind too much using one to try this fight on.

The first Lord goes down after depriving us of about half our HP -- even with drinking a potion of Speed, he was still going 50% faster than we were (+20 vs. +10, i.e. 3x normal vs. 2x normal) because he used a haste spell. The second one falls more quickly:

You burn the Dark elven lord (85). It was a great hit! You have slain the Dark elven lord. Welcome to level 23.

271 max HP, and I sincerely hope that was the last Lord.

It wasn't

But our Dragon Scale Mail has finished charging!

You breathe fire. The unknown item burn up! The Set of Caestus burns up! You hear a scream of agony! You hear a scream of agony! The Dark elven lord screams in agony. You hear a scream of agony! The Dark elven lord dies. The Dark elven lord misses you. The Dark elven lord hits you. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***

Aww, caestus are neat -- they're gloves that give you a damage bonus in combat. Though unless they gave Free Action I couldn't in good conscience replace our current gloves.

The "scream of agony" message is for when we kill a monster we can't see, as opposed to the "screams in agony" message which is when an intelligent monster is nearly killed by a ranged attack.

This Dragon Scale Mail is great. There's no way we could have taken on this force and survived without it.

A bit more combat and one last Lord would seem to be it for the enemy forces, but when I start sorting through the giant pile of loot, this bad boy shows up:

That bright green 'h' is a Dark Elven Druid, and they're like super-Lords. Same speed, similar melee, nastier spells, including the ability to summon animals and spiders. However, once again, our Dragon Scale Mail is recharged.

However however, I activate it when confused, and the blast just slams into a wall and destroys some of the loot

I chug a healing potion for the confusion and phase door in an attempt to create some space, but

Oh geeze. Abort! Abort! This is entirely the wrong terrain for this fight!

You have 7 charges remaining. (on our Staff of Teleport)

Here's the loot we managed to scavenge before having to flee:

And last, but most certainly not least,

Our days of stumbling blindly into traps are over! This wonderful little item replicates the effects of the scrolls we've been carrying, but never runs out -- instead, like our Dragon Scale Mail, it needs some time to recharge between activations.

Before having to run away, I saw some other items that seem worth checking out. Resting up recharged our DSM again, so let's get back in there.

A line of shimmering blue light appears. You have 4 charges remaining. 2 Dark elven warriors cringe from the light! The Dark elven druid cringes from the light! The Dark elven druid surrounds you in darkness. Darkness surrounds you. The Dark elven mage surrounds you in darkness. Darkness surrounds you.

Truly, we are in a battle of Light vs. Darkness

(Mages are vulnerable to light too, but since they're fast he was able to move into LOS after I used the wand, and then cast his spell)

A quick blast from our portable furnace softens one of the druids up, and when we kill him we hit level 24! The levels come fast when you're deeper than you're "supposed" to be...and when you're fighting monsters that are deeper still. Dark-elf druids are native to 1250', we're at 1100', and the game expects us to be around 900' or so. As a consequence, Dark Elven Druids are worth about 600 experience apiece.

We have no DSM help for the second druid though. He confuses us, but fortunately a potion of Cure Light Wounds clears it up; otherwise he sticks to melee attacks and creating magical darkness. Our melee is superior, and he falls in short order that it? Time to start looting again?

And, finally, the reason for all this carnage:

This was a pit. A Dark Elven pit. Every single tile in this room had a dark elf in it of some description. If you count them, that's 55 monsters. I don't have an exact count of each, but so far Freude has killed 15 mages, 12 warriors, 8 priests, 6 lords, and 3 druids...that he knows of. Several more were killed by splash damage from dragonbreaths, and a bunch were killed while blinded; neither of these contribute to the known-kills count (though you still get full experience for them).

In previous versions, pits were even bigger, containing 95 monsters apiece. However, in exchange for shrinking a bit, they now have a wider variety of monsters types to pull from; the old pits tended to be a bit samey (mostly, lots and lots of melee-only enemies).

Pits can be nasty, but they can also be fantastic sources of experience and loot. We got several equipment upgrades from this room, and two character levels. I'd call this a done update right here, but we still have one more loose end to clean up...

Hey Wormtongue! And, uh, Resident Yeti!

Dammit, the fucker survived. Time to fill him full of arrows! He can't run if he can't steal, and he can't steal if he never gets into melee!

Your Arrow (1d4) (+3,+4) {@f1} hits Wormtongue, Agent of Saruman (22). Wormtongue, Agent of Saruman dies.

And his drop is...3 scrolls that turn out to be Trap Creation (total junk, and it figures!), and...

You have the Dagger 'Nimthanc' (1d4) {special}

Fuck yes!

This baby is our new standard weapon. See that damage? That damage is ridiculous. Daggers were already the best weapon type for the early game, and Nimthanc is about as good as a dagger can possibly get. Our damage output is now nearly trebled against monsters that resisted flame but not ice. Slap on that Ring of Reckless Attacks and we're dealing 120 damage/round!

Nimthanc showed as a 1d4 weapon before we identified it because that's the standard damage dice for daggers. However, it has enhanced damage dice (because for some reason the developers didn't consider it already good enough). We have to hit something with it, or just use Identify, for that to show up.

That...was profitable. Wormtongue, you are forgiven, for in your death you have given Freude exactly what he needed most: bigger numbers with with to facecrush his enemies!

Let's call this update here. Next time: we've just blown the local difficulty curve out of the water. You should know what that means by now.