The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 15: All-You-Can-Eat Hydra Heads

Update 15: All-You-Can-Eat Hydra Heads

Welcome back! Last time, Freude studiously avoided fighting a large number of uniques, while looting the items they were guarding. Now our pack's full and it's time we headed back to town.

The air about you becomes charged... You have 4 Scrolls titled "co abitat" of Word of Recall.
You feel yourself yanked upwards!

In town, we:

Kicked out into the cold, unfeeling darkness: Aeglin, Dagmor, some Pebbles of Wounding, Pauraegen, and some Elvenkind armor.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2950')

Some kind of smaller moated room to our north; otherwise nothing of interest. The moated room has a Potion of Constitution (808 max HP!) and a Scroll of Banishment, plus some too-weak-to-notice enemies. Further exploration reveals nothing interesting until just before we take the stairs:

The Lernaean Hydra casts a bolt of fire. One of your Scrolls titled "co abitat" of Word of Recall was destroyed! One of your Arrows of Acid was destroyed!

The Lernaean Hydra is basically just a big hydra; it has fire and poison attacks and can summon more hydras. It's a legitimate threat, but we can outspeed it now, so we should be able to handle it. It also has 12 heads, 1 more than any other hydra in the game

Annoyingly, its fire attacks destroy one of our Staves of Speed, as well of course as numerous arrows and scrolls. At one point it breathes fire, and despite it being half-dead we still take over 200 damage; I quaff a Potion of Healing to keep us in the fight.

Finally, after having done a grand total of about 1000 damage to us over the course of the fight, it dies, having not summoned a single other hydra to its aid. As we reap the spoils of victory (just a bunch of cash, i.e. worthless), check out its monster memory:

Check out the damage ratings on those breath attacks. This is why I think new Angband players are best-served by turning on the cheat that gives full monster memory. The only other way to learn about these attacks is to get hit by them (or they might possibly be revealed by Probing, but I think that's semi-random). You do not want to learn about the importance of having poison resistance by getting hit by the Lernaean Hydra for more than your maximum HP in a single breath.

Anyway, nothing else is keeping us here. Next level!

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 3000')

3000'! We're well and truly in the late-game now. Monsters are nastier, but the loot is better too. In fact, just about any item can realistically drop now, especially in vaults where the item levels are boosted. We only have 39 levels left in the game before we have to face Morgoth, and we have a lot of powering up to do before then. We need to max our STR, get another +10 base speed at the very least, and find a better weapon; Totila is nice, but we need more raw damage. We'd also really like to find a source of telepathy, and you'll understand why when you see what it does.

A bit of luck lets us see this Eye Druj before it can see us. Drujs, remember, are stationary offensive spellcasters; the Eye Druj can cast Brain Smash, Manabolt, Nether bolt, and Summon Undead, and does so every turn. Standing where one can see you is a bad idea. However, from this position, we can take advantage of Angband's bizarre asymmetric line-of-sight rules, and hit the Druj without it being able to do a thing. An easy 22000 experience for us.

Exploring the rest of the level turns up nothing interesting until, again, just before taking the stairs, when we find a new scroll: Mass Banishment! These are fantastic items; they remove every non-unique monster from the level in a large radius around the player. A great panic button for when you get surrounded by nasty summons.

Again, nothing else of interest, so we head down...

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 3050')

Well, at least this time there's some items to go check out. We take out an Ancient Multi-Hued Dragon and a Master Mystic without breaking a sweat -- though the Mystic summons a Lesser Balrog, a Hellhound, and, worst of all, a Crebain:

I'm honestly surprised we haven't met any Crebain before now. They're fast group monsters who can shriek for help, which, as you may recall, hastes every monster in LOS in addition to waking them up. We need to break LOS with it or the Balrog ASAP. Fortunately we have Phase Door.

Nothing to it.

A pack of Nether Hounds, and a Dagashi (high-level ninja) with his Ninja trainees. Fortunately we resist nether attacks, so these hounds are just walking bags of experience at 6500 each.

Finally, a vault! Something other than rooms and corridors! This one is called "Central", and would be nothing special, but

You sense the presence of evil creatures!

it has a Lesser Titan in it. Titans are mean bastards. We should be able to win this fight, but it doesn't pay to play stupid, so let's break out some cheese.

Titans are summoners with ridiculously powerful, confusing melee; the Lesser Titan has 4x 9d9 confusion hits! There's not much we can do about the melee besides kill it as fast as possible, but we can restrict summoning at least. This pattern of zigzag corridors I've dug is known as an Anti-Summoning Corridor, because when you're in it, only two monsters can get LOS on you at a time. Even if he does summon, it'll just be a 2-on-1 fight, which should be manageable.

Of course, I then go and fuck it up From here the titan and up to three other enemies could theoretically be able to see me at the same time (due to the same asymmetric LOS we abused against the druj earlier).

Fortunately, he misses a lot and never summons, so the fight goes smoothly anyway. But it doesn't pay to underestimate titans. Especially, if we didn't have protection from confusion then there's no way I would have tried fighting him.

The vault doesn't have any other serious defenders, and the loot looks pretty paltry until we find a Clear Potion of Experience. These suckers are worth a clean 100,000 experience apiece, which is a goodly bit of what we need to level up. There was one back on the level with the False Wall vault somewhere -- I remember seeing a Clear Potion on the item list -- but we never did find it. Oh well, character levels are not the main source of our power any more.

There's nothing else of interest on the floor, so onwards!

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 3100')

I'm afraid much of the rest of the game is going to be like this -- lots of not-very-interesting level exploration punctuated by the occasional bout of terror as we encounter uniques and vaults.

Whoops, another Lesser Titan. Feeling cocky, I just start beating him down, and within short order Freude's at half-health, while the Titan's still more or less unhurt. Phase away, and chug 8 Cure Critical Wounds potions! With that health advantage the titan falls easily, dropping another Scroll of Banishment, and allowing access to this:

How appropriate that we found it by digging Every time you dig through rubble, there's a small chance of finding an item. The odds of that item being an artifact must be pretty poor. Anyway, the Nauglamir gives STR, CON, and light radius, while our current necklace, the Evenstar, gives resistance to dark and nether, and sustain CON. If we wear the Nauglamir, we go from 5.5 blows and 824 max HP to 5.8 blows and 924 max HP, which is pretty nice. Not having CON sustained is a bit painful, and the resists on Evenstar are frequently handy. Tough choice! We'll go with the Nauglamir for now, but we might end up switching.

That does it for that floor. Next!

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 3150')

You sense the presence of evil creatures! Something breathes. You are hit by something strange! You're not as strong as you used to be... You're not as bright as you used to be...

Yikes. There's at least one time-breather in the room with us. I'm guessing it's probably a Time Vortex, since with the Nauglamir equipped we have radius-8 infravision which would pick up any Time Hounds. Still, let's duck into that corridor real quick-a-like.

Looks like that could be a potion room to our southwest. And sure enough, it's a Time Vortex:

Easily dispatched with arrows. There's nothing in the northern room except a Troll Chieftan and his entourage, so we make our way to that southeastern room:

Just an ammo dump. Oh well. It does have a stack of Seeker Arrows of Slay Evil, which will do excellent damage against most uniques we encounter from here on out.

Oh look! It's Boldor, King of the Yeeks! He's braved the depths of the dungeon to get revenge on us for accidentally killing his son Orfax!

You burn Boldor, King of the Yeeks (75). You burn Boldor, King of the Yeeks (72). You burn Boldor, King of the Yeeks (66). You have slain Boldor, King of the Yeeks.

Fool. Appropriately enough for a King, he drops a Golden Crown, of Might!

Between this and one last Potion of Constitution dropped by his escorts, we can max our HP and still wear Evenstar. It means sacrificing our current helm Celebrimbor's disenchantment resistance, and we still only have 5.5 blows/round, but it's still probably a worthwhile trade. Of course, Evenstar's CON sustain is redundant since the crown provides it too, but darkness and nether resistances are more important than disenchantment.

The only effect of CON is to increase your HP, and the final bonus comes when you hit 18/200, not when you hit the normal maximum of 18/220. Extra CON after that point just protects you in case you get drained; not a big deal.

Here's Freude's stat sheet:

We're really in very good shape; if only we had telepathy...

Cleaning up the dregs of the level, we off a Lesser Balrog and get our second-ever Potion of Strength! Now we have 5.8 blows/round again. We just need +7 more STR (i.e. completely maxed) to get to that'll happen.

Once again, level done, on to the next...

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 3200')

There's a Great Ice Wyrm to our northeast. Great Wyrms are Ancient Dragons, except even moreso, which mostly amounts to giving them stronger melee and more hitpoints. We can cope.

Well now. The Wyrm is awake, and we also have what would have been our first introduction to Ringwraiths, had we not seen the Witch-King of Angmar previously. Uvatha the Horseman is the purple W, and he's the weakest of the Ringwraiths. Fighting him alongside the Great Ice Wyrm is going to be interesting, though.

All of the Ringwraiths have names, despite not having had distinct identities in Tolkein's books. I believe these names were taken from some paper&pencil RPG adaptation of the books. Suits me fine; it'd be kind of lame to have 9 identical unique monsters, and this way the Ringwraiths have a decent power spread so they remain a potential threat for much of the game.

Fortunately, by the time Uvatha shows up, the Great Ice Wyrm is mostly dead. We're half-dead ourselves, but it's nothing a Potion of Healing can't fix.

You burn the Great Ice Wyrm (75). You have slain the Great Ice Wyrm.

Oh hey, hang on a sec, would you Uvatha? There's a Potion of Augmentation!

You feel very strong! You feel very smart! You feel very wise! You see no more Purple Potions of Augmentation.

Right, thanks for waiting. Where were we?

You burn Uvatha the Horseman (70). You burn Uvatha the Horseman (79). You burn Uvatha the Horseman (88). You burn Uvatha the Horseman (73). You burn Uvatha the Horseman (79). Uvatha the Horseman hits you. Uvatha the Horseman hits you. Uvatha the Horseman hits you. You keep hold of your life force! Uvatha the Horseman misses you.

I think he's faring rather worse than we are. He's only native to 2000', though; really we ought to have seen him ages ago, let alone his other eight buddies. Finally, after a really rather lopsided fight in which he only landed 6 hits for less than 50 damage, Uvatha goes poof. His drop: a bunch of {magical} crap. Easy come, easy go I guess.

Up to the northeast, we take on an Elder Vampire:

and then a Great Swamp Wyrm:

The Wyrm drops a Scroll of Enchant Weapon To-Dam, which I blindly apply to Totila. It works! The odds of successfully enchanting a weapon from +12 to +13 are pretty damned small. This isn't the first enchantment scroll I've thrown at Totila, but it's nice to see one actually stick.

In this checkerboard moated room, we hit a group of Barbazu. They're mostly notable for having a melee attack that drains CON, so it's a good thing we're protected from that. They can also theoretically summon demons, but their spellcasting rate is only 1 in 10. Killing one of them gets us to level 41 and 942 max HP.

Charging into the middle of the room is a dumbassed idea, not least because there's some Chaos Hounds present. Freude, you've been downing a lot of Augmentation potions, surely you're smarter than that now!

Phase Door takes us outside, and from here we should be able to kill everything safely. Chaos Hounds, predictably, breathe chaos; our shield, Thorin, gives resistance, so who cares? They are also massive experience pinatas at 15000 apiece, although they are unusually durable for zephyr hounds.

That was the last interesting thing on this floor.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 3250')

Moated room to our east, and a Bile Demon to our south. Flavor text:

It's big. It's fat. It's red. It's ugly. It's got a severe attack of highly poisonous flatulence. And its insides are corrosive. All of which go together to make the single most repulsive sight -- and smell -- you have ever experienced.

We're immune to acid and resist poison, and the Bile Demon doesn't resist Totila's firebrand. It dies in a half-dozen turns, and the only thing its acid breath does is kill off some Apprentices that were in the same room.

Another hydra pit? We just got done cleaning our teeth from the last one!

Something roars. You are hit by fire! One of your Scrolls titled "co abitat" of Word of Recall was destroyed! One of your Cypress Staves of Detect Evil was destroyed! One of your Seeker Arrows of Slay Evil was destroyed! The 11-headed hydra casts a ball of fire. One of your Scrolls titled "nimum ormoncto" of Teleportation was destroyed! One of your Runed Staves of Identify was destroyed! One of your Arrows of Acid was destroyed! The 11-headed hydra breathes fire. One of your Scrolls titled "nimum ormoncto" of Teleportation was destroyed! One of your Scrolls titled "co abitat" of Word of Recall was destroyed! One of your Runed Staves of Identify was destroyed! Some of your Seeker Arrows of Slay Evil were destroyed!

Let's not, and say we did. *bamf*

Much better.

You sense the presence of evil creatures! The Undead beholder points at you and screams the word 'DIE!'. You avoid the effects!

Slightly better? The Cold Hounds are nothing, the Undead Beholder is marginally annoying (but we can just teleport it away)...the pit full of Blue Dragons and one Great Storm Wyrm is interesting.

Right, cleaned up a bit. The Great Storm Wyrm proves no more interesting than his icy and poisonous colleagues, and all of the Ancient Blue Dragons carry a crapton of loot. Pretty soon we're hip-deep in items.

This may take a bit to sort through. All told, we get: That's it? Really? I was expecting better

Over in this room, a small group of green dragons yields a new scroll: Rune of Protection. I'll just demonstrate what this does real quick:

Rune of Protection puts a rune down on the ground, and no monster is allowed into the space with the rune, nor can they make melee attacks at the player if they're standing on it. Instead, the monster will try to break the rune. The higher-level the monster, the more likely they are to break the rune, but it can still buy you a lot of free attacks. Some players like to stockpile them for the endgame, but honestly we're stockpiling enough crap already, so I'll just leave it be.

Finally, up in this small room, we hit some Dreads, who helpfully drop a potion each of Strength and Intelligence.

That's about it for this level (we'll just let the hydras be), and our pack is full to bursting, so let's stop here. Next time: maybe we can start making some inroads on the nastier uniques?