The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 8: Temptation

Update 8: Temptation

Last time, Freude chopped the dungeon to bits, looking in vain for something that could stand up to him in melee with his new toys. We'll have to do something about that.

Before returning to the dungeon, I notice that the magic store has some un-ID'd items on the cheap. So we drop some money on identifying
Enough dilly-dallying.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 1500')

Freude is at this point much too shallow to be able to find a challenge, so we're switching to highlights mode while we look for more staircases.

A Grave Wight in blue, a couple of Fire Giants, and a Red Mold that doesn't really know what it's doing down here. The Grave Wight is marginally more dangerous than the Forest Wight we fought earlier, but we can still kill it in a single round of combat so it doesn't really matter. The Fire Giants are a different matter; each one deals nearly 100 damage before we can kill it, so it's a good thing the second only woke up after the first was already dead.

Between them and the room they were in, we get some {excellent} boots (replacing the average boots we've been wearing for most of the game), a piece of Elvish Waybread (the ur-food; fully satisfying and cures poison for some reason), and an Amethyst Ring:

Okay, now I know the RNG is fucking with me. This is a perfect ring -- they don't come higher than +6. Wielding this takes us from 4.0 blows/round to 5.0 blows/round, so our offense just increased by 25%. Of course, that meant removing the Ring of Resist Fire and Cold, but Freude has the hitpoints to survive, and as I said earlier, offense is usually better than defense.

A group of Ice Trolls, who naturally have cold resistance and melee attacks that deal cold damage. At this point, a speedbump, albeit one that's worth plenty of experience. Some of our massive stack of 40 Cure Light Wounds potions get destroyed with each freeze attack, though.

Our first Umber Hulk! They can bore straight through walls, and their gaze attack causes confusion -- the first serious enemy with a confusing melee attack. Fortunately they count as natural enemies, so Dagmor's anti-animal slay kicks in and downs this one before he can become a nuisance.

If you have mapped out the dungeon, then you can often see Umber Hulks and other wall-breaking enemies coming. The game doesn't know how to lie to you about the state of terrain: once you've seen a tile on the map, you know its state, even if that state changes. So you can see walls get destroyed, doors get opened, items get picked up, etc.

In the room behind the Hulk is a Tin-Plated Rod that turns out to be Treasure Location. I talked about these earlier -- they detect objects around you. This will be quite useful for directing our exploration.

A group of mid-range adventurers, guarding the way down. Here I've targeted the middle of their group, in preparation for burning the lot of them with dragonbreath. We don't really want to waste time.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 1550')

That...that is a lot of items. I don't think this is a standard moated room. I think this is a vault. A very sneaky, disguised vault.

Vaults are special "rooms" that have hand-made layouts and unusually powerful enemies guarding unusually nice treasure. Here's an example of a layout taken from the "vault.txt" resource file:

N:31:Disguised 2x2
And here's the symbol definitions:

The top of vault.txt posted:

% - outside of the vault, where corridors may be connected
# - granite
X - impenetrable rock
* - treasure or trap
+ - secret door
^ - trap
& - monster up to 5 levels out of depth (OOD)
@ - monster up to 11 levels OOD
9 - monster up to 9 levels OOD and treasure up to 7 levels OOD
8 - monster up to 40 levels OOD and treasure up to 20 levels OOD
, - monster up to 3 levels OOD and/or treasure up to 7 levels OOD

If this is the vault that I think it is, then there could be 4 monsters in it from as deep as 3550'! Naturally we have to check this out.

In the interests of not getting surprised by, say, an Ancient White Dragon and losing all our hitpoints in a single turn, though, I'm going to swap out our Reckless Attacks ring for the resistance ring to patch that cold resistance hole.

On the way there, we find a Green Speckled Potion in the room to our east, which permanently boosts our Constitution! Our max HP only go up by 7, but we're that much closer to the point where CON gains have a major impact.

Remember what I said about the map? Something in that vault can open doors, and is headed for us. Best to wait right here for them, as we have favorable LOS position here.

And here we are! Khim, Son of Mim! This guy, his brother Ibun, and Mim himself tend to show up together, and they're all annoying to fight, with melee attacks that can disenchant our equipment (that is, drain to-hit, to-dam, and to-AC bonuses from them; they can't touch e.g. the DEX bonus from our ring). Fortunately, artifacts get a saving throw; unfortunately, they aren't immune. Losing pluses from your artifacts can be really demoralizing.

While I'd like to pull Shoot 'n Scoot on this guy, phase dooring away right now could be a really bad plan; who knows what's lurking in that north-south corridor. Best to back away first.

This should do it.

And then I realize that I have no light spells and thus can't see my target. Followed up by

Something mumbles. You are hit by something cold! You feel your life force draining away!

That's odd, Khim shouldn't have nether bolts.

Something makes scary noises. You are terrified!
Something hits you. Something touches you. You feel your life force draining away!

Oh right, ghosts are a thing. And we still don't have permanent See Invisible. Elvagil, get your ass out here!

The Nether wraith misses you. The Nether wraith misses you. The Nether wraith touches you. You feel your life force draining away! The Nether wraith touches you. You feel your life force draining away! The Nether wraith gazes at you with psionic energy. You are confused!

Mommy, I don't want to be here any more! We're confused, afraid, half-dead, and down 3000 experience (out of our total of 28000). Nether Wraiths are really not worth fighting at the best of times, and having to swap out our primary melee weapon for Elvagil (which does significantly less damage) just so we can see them makes things even worse. They're fast, and while their melee attacks don't do much damage, their nether bolts and mind blasting spells do, and status ailments and experience drain are no fun.

Still, there are the contents of the vault to consider. We can't avoid this guy without leaving the level entirely -- he can walk through walls. And running away without seeing any of the items in the vault seems a bit too cautious.

You feel very good. You are no longer confused. You have 7 Icky Green Potions of Cure Serious Wounds.

A couple of Phase Doors finally get him out of the walls. Any enemy in walls is totally immune to ranged attacks -- they hit the wall instead of the enemy. You have to either use melee or get them to move into open space.

You breathe fire. The Nether wraith cries out in pain.

Hm, that only did about 30% of his hitpoints. I was hoping for more. Time to down Speed; we need speed parity to have a chance. He spent his turns moving next to us, so phase away first; never drink potions in melee range if you can help it, as you'll just be giving your opponent free hits on you.

You feel yourself moving faster! You have a Pungent Potion of Speed {!*}.

He's about half dead! And he's drained so much experience from us that we've lost a level. Goodbye level 26.

You hit the Nether wraith (21). You hit the Nether wraith (23). The Nether wraith flees in terror!

Your Arrow (1d4) (+0,+0) hits the Nether wraith (12). The Arrow breaks. The Nether wraith cries out in pain.

Ranged attacks against fleeing monsters do strange things to their AI. The wraith could escape into the walls from here, but instead he flees along them while staying in the room. Once he gets out of our light radius, though, we have to pursue.

You hit the Nether wraith (18). You have destroyed the Nether wraith.

Fantastic. He dropped nothing, and despite being worth 2652 experience points we're still down 9000 from our normal maximum. And we haven't killed Khim yet either.

I decide to just melee Khim; while we could try to Shoot 'n Scoot him, it'd be wearing on our Phase Door scrolls and our bow (a Shortbow (x2) (+3,+4)) really isn't up to the task. We need a better ranged weapon. Fortunately Khim doesn't resist poison, so Dagmor's poison brand kicks in.

You miss Khim, Son of Mim. You poison Khim, Son of Mim (26). You poison Khim, Son of Mim (26). You poison Khim, Son of Mim (32). You poison Khim, Son of Mim (17). Khim, Son of Mim misses you. Khim, Son of Mim hits you. Khim, Son of Mim misses you. Khim, Son of Mim misses you.

Phew, he missed with his disenchanting attack -- his first three melee attacks are just straight 3d6 damage, which is nothing at this point.

Khim, Son of Mim hits you. Your Metal Cap of Regeneration was disenchanted!

And then he disenchants our cap a second time. Dude, we really don't care that much about that cap. You want to drain pluses from it? Be our guest.

Khim, Son of Mim hits you. Your Short Bow was disenchanted!

Slightly more annoying (our bow is now (+2,+3)) but still could be a lot worse. What we don't want is to lose pluses from Dagmor.

You miss Khim, Son of Mim. You poison Khim, Son of Mim (35). You poison Khim, Son of Mim (32). You poison Khim, Son of Mim (32). You have slain Khim, Son of Mim.

Phew! No serious harm done. And he dropped...

You have the Soft Leather Armour 'Hithlomir' [10] {special}


Hithlomir finally gives us basic resistance to every element in a single armor slot. The darkness and nether resistance, and the stealth bonus, are comparatively minor benefits. Of course we lose the dragonbreath ability, which has come in quite handy, so I don't think I'll be swapping this in just yet.

One recent change to the game was to make uniques into better loot pinatas. Previously their drops were only marginally better than what any other monster would drop; now they get bonus chances to drop artifacts. To compensate, the artifact drop rate was reduced from other sources. The devs run statistics on how much loot is in the dungeon, so they know what effects each tweak to balance has.

Back to our fishing spot, and our next pull is this Lich. Basic liches are not especially nasty, but you usually want to avoid melee with them because they can drain experience and DEX with their touch. However, our Ring of Dexterity protects us against the latter effect, in addition to the DEX bonus it gives.

They can also drain charges from your wands and staves, healing themselves in the process, but that's relatively unlikely, so we'll just suck it up and smack this one to death in the face.

The Lich misses you. The Lich touches you. Energy drains from your pack! The Lich misses you. The Lich touches you. You feel very clumsy for a moment, but the feeling passes.

He was almost dead! Now he's back to half health. Fortunately, that was his only successful drain.

You hit the Lich (18). You miss the Lich. You miss the Lich. You hit the Lich (16). You have destroyed the Lich.

The Four-Headed Hydra was next, but it's not resistant to poison so we soon sent it fleeing. The wraith is a White Wraith; puny. However, the human is a Mystic. They can summon animals, so he's probably why the hydra was here. They're also no slouch in the melee department.

The Mystic kicks you. The Mystic kicks you. The Mystic misses you. The Mystic misses you. The Mystic kicks you. The Mystic misses you. The Mystic kicks you.

Fast, and three 10d2 kick attacks per round. And they resist poison. A couple turns later, he's half dead and we're two-thirds dead; this is not a good exchange rate. Phase Door remains risky, but I'm willing to chance a teleport in this situation.

You have 3 charges remaining. (on our Staff of Teleportation)

This will do; we can rest up and then get back to the fight. While we rest, an Illusionist stops by with 2 Grey Potions, which ID as True Seeing. They'll give us temporary See Invisible when quaffed, which means we don't have to swap in Elvagil for ghost fighting. Excellent.

Orfax, Son of Boldor hits you. Orfax, Son of Boldor misses you. Orfax, Son of Boldor defiles you! Orfax, Son of Boldor dances around you! You poison Orfax, Son of Boldor (32). You poison Orfax, Son of Boldor (35). You poison Orfax, Son of Boldor (41). It was a great hit! You poison Orfax, Son of Boldor (20). You have slain Orfax, Son of Boldor.

Whoops, the fight happened before I realized it, and I failed to get a shot with Orfax still alive

Orfax is the second-most powerful yeek in the game (no guesses for who rules the yeek roost). We were supposed to fight him way back at 500', at which point he would have still been a pushover.

His drop is a Scimitar of Slay Demon. Trash. Also found in the chambered room he came from: a Ring of Free Action (same effect as our gloves; now trash), a Wand of Slow Monster (very useful when it works, which is rarely), a Rod of Light (as the Wand of Light; might be useful), a Shield of Resist Fire (redundant with our body armor), a Ring of Strength <+1>, and a down staircase.

But we're not going to take that, not yet.

Around about this time I realize we've been carrying a Staff of Detect Evil around for awhile now.

You sence the presence of evil creatures! You have 9 charges remaining.

Okay! Right. To our west is a Pseudo-Dragon (breathes light and darkness, but is weak), and there's a bunch of Blue Dragons of various maturities culminating in the Mature Blue Dragon still in the vault. That red D, though, is an Ancient Red Dragon, and we'd really better avoid him. Ancient dragons are all fast, have fairly strong melee, and really punishing breath attacks, at least for our current level. And of course, being a fire dragon he's immune to our own dragonbreath. We might be able to take him with our last Potion of Speed, but who's to say there isn't something just as bad that we can't detect, either because it's not evil or it's out of range?

This is going to require some finesse. Approaching from the west, we can get closer without any monsters getting out, and detect again.

You sense the presence of evil creatures! You have 8 charges remaining.

This could be worse. This could be a lot worse. It could be a lot better, too. The purple O is Lokkak, the Ogre Chieftan; he's a fast melee unique and we can't kill him without hasting up ourselves. Thus we can only fight him or the Ancient Red Dragon, not both. The pink h is Mim, Betrayer of Turin; he's not exactly fun to fight but he's not much stronger than his sons. Otherwise, the northwest and southeast quadrants don't have much of interest in them, that we can detect anyway.

Current plan: try to sneak into the northwest quadrant and loot it, then teleport out before we get mobbed. That's going to require chewing through the awake monsters first, since they're all headed for us. First is that Ghoul; a minor group zombie whose melee attacks can paralyze. Total pushovers, now, but a deadly threat earlier on if you don't have Free Action.

Next is the Mature Blue Dragon, which we take out without difficulty. Then Ibun shows up -- unlike his dad, he's not evil, so we didn't detect him. But I should have realized he'd be around.

You breathe fire. Ibun, Son of Mim resists a lot. Ibun, Son of Mim tries to cast a spell, but fails.

So much for that. I should have remembered that Mim and his sons resist the basic 4 elements. Fortunately as we discovered earlier, they don't resist poison.

Ibun, like his brother, settles for disenchanting our cap and our bow before dying.

Mim, Betrayer of Turin hits you. Mim, Betrayer of Turin misses you. Mim, Betrayer of Turin misses you. Mim, Betrayer of Turin hits you. Your Set of Leather Gloves of Free Action was disenchanted!

Oh yeah, Mim is fast. I'd forgotten about that, somehow. Okay, he's at least twice as dangerous as his sons. This could be tricky and/or damaging to our gear.

And he resists poison

New plan: teleport out, rest up, use our last speed potion when we come back. And hope both Lokkak and the Ancient Red Dragon don't wake up.

You have 2 charges remaining. (on our Staff of Teleportation)

Back over here, eh? One thing about teleportation: it has a tendency to drop you in approximately the same location over and over again. Some quirk of the programming. This can be problematic if there's more than one area in the dungeon that you can't handle, because you can easily end up teleporting from one to the other and then back again. This is why we have Teleport Level scrolls in our backpack.

You sense the presence of evil creatures! You have 7 charges remaining.

I hope this works...

You hit Mim, Betrayer of Turin (19). You hit Mim, Betrayer of Turin (21). You hit Mim, Betrayer of Turin (19). You hit Mim, Betrayer of Turin (19). You hit Mim, Betrayer of Turin (20). Mim, Betrayer of Turin magically starts closing wounds. Mim, Betrayer of Turin looks healthier.

He just healed about 20% of his damage. Uniques with healing spells can last more or less indefinitely if they decide to spam them. This is one reason why Angband doesn't have truly intelligent spellcasters.

He drains our gloves and bow to +0, our shield to +1, and our cap to +4, but finally...

You hit Mim, Betrayer of Turin (17). You have slain Mim, Betrayer of Turin.

And I see something valuable...

You were holding a Lantern of Brightness (14413 turns). It glows! Your light source is the Phial of Galadriel <+3> {special}.

The Phial is the first artifact light source. It's only barely better than our old Lantern -- the same light radius, but it never runs out of turns, and you can periodically do this:

You activate it. The Phial wells with clear light... You are surrounded by a white light.

This acts like the Staff of Light, illuminating rooms. It'll be a big help for us, given how important being able to see your enemies is.

But that's not all!

You have the Broad Sword 'Aeglin' (2d5) {special}

Somewhat underwhelming, just because we get so few blows/round with it. That will change eventually, though; Aeglin will probably be worth keeping around for later.

You sense the presence of evil creatures! You have 6 charges remaining.

Good, Lokkak is still asleep. The Ancient Red Dragon is awake, though. That could be a problem.

Heading down the corridor, I discover that Ibun dropped a Flail. We couldn't grab it earlier because Mim was standing on it. Identifying it, it's another artifact!

Totila would be fantastic, again, if we were getting more blows/round.

And one turn south:

This isn't even a unique drop; as you can see it's from one of Lokkak's escorts. Pauraegen isn't worth using though, since we need the Free Action from our current gloves. Still, I shove it into our increasingly overstuffed inventory in case we get Free Action from somewhere else.

We've made it in!

A bunch of chaff monsters, and Nar, the Dwarf. Nar is just a speedbump at this point; his most dangerous ability is the psionic blast spell (which damages and causes confusion) but he's unlikely to use it. We'll just ignore him.

We find a Ring of See Invisible, which prompts the following equipment swaps:Much better.

Aw, nutbunnies. Lokkak is awake. In one turn he deals 70 damage to us -- melee is not a valid proposition. Though I do note with interest that he doesn't resist poison. Let's teleport out again.

You have 1 charge remaining. (on our Staff of Teleportation)

On the way back, we take out some Werewolves and a Wolf Chieftan; the former just have lots of hitpoints and the latter is mostly notable for spamming darkness spells.

Somehow we pulled Nar instead of Lokkak. Suits me fine; Nar is eminently facecrush-able.

You hit Nar, the Dwarf (20). You hit Nar, the Dwarf (20). You have slain Nar, the Dwarf.

Splort. He drops a magic bastard sword; meh. Now, let's see how feasible Lokkak is...

Lokkak, the Ogre Chieftan hits you. Lokkak, the Ogre Chieftan misses you. Lokkak, the Ogre Chieftan hits you. Lokkak, the Ogre Chieftan hits you. Lokkak, the Ogre Chieftan hits you. Lokkak, the Ogre Chieftan hits you.

And there goes 90 HP Another turn of combat, and even though we land all of our attacks, he's only down 10% of his HP. Meanwhile, we're half-dead.

This is not doable. Alas, we're going to have to abandon this vault. Even if we approached from a different direction, Lokkak would be there in short order.

You have 0 charges remaining. (on our Staff of Teleportation).
The air about you becomes charged... You have 4 Scrolls titled "co abitat" of Word of Recall {!*!*!*}.
You feel yourself yanked upwards!

Despite the fact that we never really got to loot the vault, that was still a profitable venture. Four uniques were slain, we found some artifacts, and we got some equipment upgrades!

Now that we're in town, I finally get around to identifying those boots we picked up:

On your feet: a Pair of Leather Boots of Stability [2,+7].

Given that the only other option for boots that aren't obvious on wield was for them to be Feather Falling, this is fine. Stability gives feather falling and resistance to Nexus, a rather annoying element.

Being hit by Nexus attacks teleports you: a short distance, or across the dungeon, or to right next to your attacker, or to a different dungeon level entirely. Back in the day, there was also a small chance that nexus attacks would swap two of your stats at random. The message "Your body starts to scramble..." meant as-good-as death for many characters, who suddenly found that one of their key stats had been swapped with one of their dump stats.

This was removed relatively recently. The devs would rather actually kill your character, than render him/her no fun to play.

Some highlights from the town:

The Temple had this for sale:

Defender weapons make great "stat sticks" for caster characters, but usually they aren't very good for actually killing things.

(Remember, just because it says "Bought from a store" doesn't mean I actually bought it)

The Ring of Slaying is the big brother of the Ring of Reckless Attacks. (+4,+6) to-hit/to-dam isn't bad, but right now we need our ring slots for more important abilities.

Body armor of Resistance, and shields of Resistance, are the more usual way to get all four basic resistances. If we hadn't found Hithlomir, and if we could afford this, it would be a no-brainer purchase.

These I actually do buy; now we can wield Pauraegen!

This is a nice dagger! The "Blessed by the gods" ability means that priests aren't penalized for wielding it -- like in D&D, priests aren't supposed to wield sharp weapons, and take a penalty to their spellcasting ability if they do, unless the weapon is blessed.

Still, it's not as nice as Dagmor, even though it'd let us swap out our Ring of See Invisible.

I should explain how brands and slays work. Monsters have different "type" information. For example, that Ancient Red Dragon was both evil and a dragon; a Skeletal Orc is evil, undead, and an orc. Slays will "target" certain monster types, doing bonus damage to them. Similarly, elemental brands do extra damage to monsters that don't resist that damage type. Dagmor has a poison brand, hence why it's so important when monsters resist poison.

Slays and brands multiply the weapon's damage dice when they kick in. The amount of multiplication depends on the slay/brand; Slay Evil and Slay Animal are x2, everything else (and the elemental brands) is x3 except for some superpowered slays later on that are x5. So against poison-vulnerable enemies, Dagmor is effectively a 3d7 weapon instead of a 1d7 weapon. That's roughly an extra 8 damage per blow, which is not insignificant.

This Holy Avenger dagger is only 1d4 though, so its slays aren't nearly so noticeable.

Here's Freude inventory at the end of the day:

And here's his equipment:

The only missile weapon for sale was another unenchanted shortbow

Freude's managed to recover all of the experience he lost, and he's now at level 27. Maybe next time we'll manage to get him down to the proper depths of the dungeon.