The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 20: Everything Burns

Update 20: Everything Burns

Last time, Freude finally caved in the skull of Feagwath the lich and made it to 4000', beginning the final march on Sauron and Morgoth. They should be feeling anxious. Freude's coming!

Since we found the Shield of the Haradrim last update, we've made some equipment swaps. Here's Freude's inventory and equipment (and the Alchemist still doesn't have any Scrolls of Recharging ):

Having disenchantment resistance would be really handy about now; plenty of late-game monsters have disenchanting attacks (and there's even a few monsters who can breathe disenchantment for big damage). We'll just have to do without.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4050')

Downing a Potion of Enlightenment doesn't turn up much of interest beyond a Potion of Speed and a Scythe of Slicing. Starting to explore, though, we turn up a new unique:

In that moated room is Baphomet, the Minotaur Lord. He's a melee beast: 2x 12d13 and 2x 10d10 melee attacks, and he's at +20 speed. Fortunately the attacks don't do anything special; he just straight-up tries to smash your face in. I bet Freude is face-smashier. If things go poorly, well, the Potion of Speed is en route so we can at least get a good speed advantage.

Yeah, this is going well; his melee isn't especially dangerous since it all gets reduced by our AC (due to not having any special properties attached to it). He's half-dead and has only done about 200 damage to us. Meanwhile a Black Pudding has come to visit. We're no longer immune to acid, but our offense is strong enough to kill puddings in a turn apiece now, so who cares?

Baphomet turns to flee, finds his way blocked by a giant pile of rotting black goo, and gets cut down from behind. His drop isn't even worth IDing; none of it passes {magical}. The only worthwhile things we get out of this room are a Potion of Augmentation and a Scroll of Recharging. Hooray! More speed!

The recharge backfires! There is a bright flash of light. You have 2 Staves of Speed (0 charges).

We did have 3 staves. Oh well.

An old friend, Thuringwethil. Her confusing melee is no longer a problem for us, so we should be able to beat her down in short order, especially with our undead-slaying Mace of Gondolin. I'm sure she'll eat a bunch of our experience in the process, but oh well.

Bring it, lady.

You smite Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger (134). You smite Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger (134). You smite Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger (134). You smite Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger (131). You miss Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger. Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger bites you. You feel your life force draining away! Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger bites you. You feel your life force draining away! Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger hits you. Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger misses you.

This shouldn't be hard.

Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger smashes you with psionic energy. You feel yourself moving slower! You resist the effect! You resist the effect! You resist the effect!

Me and my big mouth. We're now at +7 speed to her +20 (switching to the mace loses us +5 speed from Aglarang, our katana; otherwise our base would be +22). This is not great...but even though she'll be double-moving us frequently, we still have 766 HP and she simply doesn't have any way to deal large amounts of damage quickly, beyond a fairly weak nether storm which we resist anyway. We'll just chug a Healing potion and keep smashing.

Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger summons its kin.

Okay, this is a problem. That Elder Vampire in red there can move through walls. Guess we'll have to use our Potion of Speed to counteract the slowdown, and make some distance; Thuringwethil is the only +20-speed monster here so she'll outdistance her summons.

Like so.

You feel yourself speed up.

And now we're at +27 speed. The tables have turned!

You smite Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger (173). You smite Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger (128). You smite Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger (303. It was a superb hit! You smite Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger (128). You smite Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger (167). You have destroyed Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger.

Okay, so she was slightly more dangerous than I thought she'd be. And we're down 700k experience and two character levels (900k after we finish with her summons). Big deal! Freude doesn't need character levels! He just needs, y'know, the hitpoints that come with them.

Nothing in Thuringwethil's drop, but the room she was in has this:

Very nearly nice, but it doesn't outdamage Aglarang, let alone have any useful other properties, so it's junk. Also apparently Scythes of Slicing don't have innate Slay Animal; weird. I could have sworn they did.

I'm about to ram into this Stone Giant when I see the message

Atlas, the Titan wakes up.

That's no Stone Giant! It's time to kill Atlas. He doesn't do anything except hit really, really hard and throw boulders, fortunately, so while we may need to heal during the fight, there shouldn't be any complications.

Oh, and his attacks cause earthquakes. And have I mentioned they hurt? Three rounds of combat drop us by 400 HP! Phasing away, we shotgun seven Potions of Cure Critical Wounds in a row to get back to near-full health. Small heals can add up as long as you aren't being attacked.

Atlas, the Titan hits you. The Fire hound wails out in pain!

Thus the perils of spectating a fight where one of the combatants can cause earthquakes. That Fire Hound was just removed from the level -- not killed, but simply deleted (just like *Destruction* doesn't kill uniques).

We go through another 13 Cure Critical Wounds potions in this fight, but the outcome was never really in doubt. Atlas doesn't have the kind of spike damage needed to threaten us when we're at high HP, and we always had the ability to break LOS to heal up.

We may be fine, but he kind of did a number on the dungeon. We're done here anyway; time to move on.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4100')

Another Potion of Enlightenment reveals this is a cavern level:

We should probably check out the Ring of Speed to the south of those Nether Hounds, but otherwise we should get off the level ASAP. Speaking of Nether Hounds, zephyr hounds in general are a colossal pain on cavern levels, because there are no rooms in them, which means the hounds will always try to avoid melee with you. The "is the player in a room" logic appears to depend on special tile markers that are set when the dungeon is created, and cavern levels don't set those markers.

The Ring of Speed is only +9; worse than our current ring. Oh well.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4150')

No more Enlightenment potions, so we'll have to explore things the hard way.

We meet our first-ever Great Hell Wyrm. Flavor text:

A vast dragon of immense power. Fire leaps continuously from its huge form. The air around it scalds you. Its slightest glance burns you, and you truly realize how insignificant you are.

Honestly not all that dangerous though; they have a powerful firebreath, but they don't use it often and otherwise don't have anything going for them. He takes out some arrows and scrolls and another Staff of Speed, but dies quickly. His drop is better than the last few uniques' were, though -- a Lantern of True Sight (i.e. equally powerful as our current lightsource) and Boots of Speed <+8> (i.e. almost as good as our current shoes).

Looks like a Hydra pit is the only thing of interest on this level. There's a bunch of items in it; might as well clear it out. Our haul, aside from even more completely meaningless money, ends up just being a Scroll of *Enchant Weapon* that actually works on Aglarang, taking it to (+12,+10).

This level sucks. Let's move on.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4200')

The Sorcerer wakes up. The Sorcerer casts a ball of fire. Your Teak Staff of Speed was destroyed! The Water elemental resists a lot.

And now we have no renewable sources of temporary speed. Stupid fire attacks!

Three things of note in this room: the h is Eol the Dark Elf, from whom we fled so long ago. The g is a Bronze Golem, basically a golem demon; nasty melee and strong, but rarely-cast spells. Finally, there's some Gravity Hounds in residence, and while they aren't going to do much damage to us themselves, being slowed and involuntarily phased about can really muck up our battle plans.

We start by luring out the Gravity Hounds.

This does not go according to plan. Oh well, teleport away the Bronze Golem (since we don't want to fight it alongside Eol) and we'll just beat Eol's face in here. He dies in six rounds of melee, having done nothing except cast Confuse and Phase Door, and hit us with what is by now a truly pathetic set of 3d8 attacks.

The only thing of note in his drop:

Calris is ruinous to dragons and pretty good against most other enemies, but the curse, aggravation, and to-hit malus make it kind of a pain to use. Back in the day, Enchant Weapon scrolls used to be sold by the Alchemist, so enchanting Calris up to positive to-hit was a plausible task; these days it's kind of unrealistic. Aglarang does only slightly less damage against evil monsters, and we have our Mace of Disruption of Gondolin for everything else. Calris is junk.

We track down the Bronze Golem and melt it into scrap, and are done with this level.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4250')

A Great Wyrm of Law and a Dreadmaster in our opening room. Great Wyrms of Law are slightly weaker than Great Wyrms of Balance, having only sounds and shards attacks (chaos and disenchantment are reserved for Great Wyrms of Chaos, natch).

The Great Wyrm of Law summons ancient dragons.

They still can summon ancient dragons, though! We rolled two Great Crystal Drakes, one Death Drake, and one Ancient Gold Dragon. Theoretically these guys could kill us with enough simultaneous breaths, and we can't teleport them away, nor can we rely on phase door taking us out of LOS. We could teleport ourselves...or we could just banish them.

Choose a monster race (by symbol) to banish:
You have 2 Scrolls titled "edo matiesto" of Banishment.

Ehh, it's not like they would have dropped anything interesting anyway.

Incoming uniques! The p is Castamir the Usurper, a chump (native to 1900'!). The U is Pazuzu, Lord of Air, though, and he is an asshole. First though, flavor text:

A winged humanoid from the Planes of Hell, Pazuzu grins inhumanely at you as he decides your fate.

Dude, that grin is against the Geneva Convention

Seriously though, Pazuzu has +30 speed and 4 shocking 12d12 attacks per round, making him able to put out a gigantic pile of hurt in a hurry, while blowing up our Rods and Wands of Teleport Other. Yeah, we're not fighting you, buddy. Go away.

Pazuzu, Lord of Air disappears!

(Castamir dies in two rounds and drops nothing interesting)

We find Pazuzu again in this oddly-shaped room:

It's not a vault; there's nowhere near enough items in it. However, he's accompanied by Omarax the Eye Tyrant (a super-beholder) and a pack of Chaos Hounds. Best to just leave well-enough alone.

There is a searing blast of light! You have 9 charges remaining.

Or, y'know, blast them into oblivion. That works too. Conveniently, an item in the room just avoided being Destructed: a Staff of Healing! It works just like the Potion of Healing, except we get 3 charges and only have a 75% chance of successfully using it. So, kinda junky.

Let's move on.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4300')

Shown: one of the best reasons to always have a window open that lists the monsters you're aware of. See that skeleton up to the north? Looks like a normal skeleton, right?

You are aware of 15 monsters:

In one of the greatest dick moves of the game, Cantoras is a very slightly off-color s, so you'll think he's just a Skeleton Kobold or something until he starts slinging spells at you. Oh yeah, his flavor text:

A legion of evil undead druj animating the skeleton of a once mighty sorcerer. His power is devastating and his speed unmatched in the underworld. Flee his wrath!

Yeah, Cantoras is no joke; +30 speed and a bunch of nasty spells.

What's worse, we're in a cavern level:

We aren't fighting him here, that's for sure! In fact we probably won't be fighting him at all; there's practically no upside. He doesn't even have a drop as far as I can tell.

Fortunately, we make it to the stairs without running into any threats. We do find another Scroll of Recharging, now that we can't use it any more

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4350')

Our Rod of Detection reveals nothing remotely threatening in that lesser vault to our north. This kind of setup is why aggressive diving is such an effective strategy in Angband: even at 4900', just before the endgame, there's plenty of relatively safe areas that can still have endgame loot in them. A relatively weak character can stealth the deep dungeons, teleporting away whatever wakes up that they can't handle, and rapidly gear up. Of course, this requires being able to replay levels, something Freude cannot do; his lousy stealth would also make him rather bad at it.

Anyway, there's nothing in the vault we want except some more Potions of Healing. Heading east, we spot another Ainur pit:

En route we take out some Dreads and a Dreadlord, and a pack of Nexus hounds. We don't resist nexus at the moment, and the hounds move so slowly that drawing them into a room for the slaughter is annoyingly tedious. I almost just blow them away with a charge of our *Destruction* staff, but something restrains me. I've no idea what; it's not like *Destruction* charges are especially rare right now.

The pit is full of chumps, with just one Istar (top-tier) and no Blue Wizards (penultimate tier). The Maia and Lesser Maia can't even scratch us, so cleaning up the vault is a trivial process, but it generates a staggering number of items:

We get several more rods out of the deal, as well as a Scroll of Mass Banishment, a Potion of *Healing*, a Potion of Experience, and a replacement Staff of Speed We'll see how long it takes for this one to burn.

At this point I decide to lose our Staves of Teleportation; our last-ditch escape (singular) is now Teleport Level. This could really suck if we get hit by amnesia and then need to flee, but the odds of that are tiny, and I'd rather have the inventory space. Besides, teleporting yourself at this stage of the game is horrendously risky.

That pit was the last interesting thing on the level; next!

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4400')

An Enlightenment potion (from the pit) reveals that the only thing of interest on this level is an *Enlightenment* potion. That's pretty sad, guys. At least we find a new unique en route to the potion:

Lungorthin, the Balrog of White Fire is a super-balrog; like most greater demons the biggest threat is his ability to summon more demons, but he also drains charges with his melee and can breathe fire and plasma.

Annoyingly, he wakes up before I can set up an anti-summoning corridor, let alone ditch our staves and wands somewhere safe:

I guess we'll just have to fight it out here!

Naturally, the first thing he drains is our Staff of Speed. Interestingly, once he's drained that, though, his drain-charges attack starts failing sometimes. I've never seen that before; I guess it picks a random charge-capable item from your inventory and attempts to drain that? Which would imply that you could protect your items by carrying a bunch of empty wands or staves with you, if you have free inventory slots.

The fight goes pretty well until he summons greater demons:

If I had a proper anti-summoning corridor this would be no problem, but as it is the Greater Balrog he pulled could easily see me and either use nasty attack spells or pull even more demons. Time to bail; we'll track down Lungorthin away from his buddies and finish the fight.

Lungorthin, the Balrog of White Fire disappears!
There is a searing blast of light! You have 5 charges remaining. (on our Staves of *Destruction*)

We track him down pretty quickly, and despite the obvious path to us he gets stuck, giving us time to set up an anti-summoning corridor:

Our speed has run out, but he can't drain charges to heal himself any more (we ditch our Wands of Teleport Other and Staves of *Destruction*, the only things he could have drained), so this should be no problem. Indeed, three turns later he tries to flee, and gets a Mace of Disruption in the face for his trouble. And we finally hit level 48!

Sadly, his drop is crap, and he destroyed our Scroll of Mass Banishment in the fight. Asshole.

We secure the Potion of *Enlightenment* for use on the next floor. But first, it's time to return to town and restock. Miracle of miracles, the Alchemist has Scrolls of Recharging, so we can restock our Staff of Speed. And it doesn't blow up! Truly we are blessed.

I pull our Scrolls of Banishment out of the home; they aren't likely to be useful in the final fights, but could save some hassle getting there. I'd really like to have more than the 3 scrolls each of Mass Banishment and *Destruction* that we currently have, but they've been a bit thin on the ground. Or on fire

I'll call the update here. Next time: we dive to just before the final fights. Unless something shiny distracts us.