The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 21: The Final Dive

Update 21: The Final Dive

Last time, we cleared out about half the remaining levels in the game, killing a few uniques in the process. Time to tackle the other half! Freude's equipment hasn't changed since we last saw it, but here's his inventory:

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4450')

Time to chug that *Enlightenment* potion we got last level.

You begin to feel more enlightened... You sense the presence of traps! You sense the presence of doors! You sense the presence of buried treasure! You sense the presence of objects! An image of all nearby life-forms appears in your mind.

Whelp. I wouldn't have minded seeing a new vault, but another False Wall isn't unwelcome.

You are aware of 239 monsters:

There's so many monsters in sight that the game can't even fit them all onscreen at once! All of these uniques are in Fuck No territory with the possible exception of Vecna, and then only because we're awesome at fighting undead. Huan and Carcharoth are both bastards with nasty breath weapons; Huan is worse because resists to his elements (cold/light/shards/sound) are rarer than Carcharoth's (fire/dark/nether/poison). The Tarrasque is legendary for its ability to put out obscene amounts of damage very quickly: it's at +20 speed, casts spells every other turn, and only has three spells: breathe cold, breathe fire, and breathe disenchantment. Ungoliant we've run into in the past, and she's still just too big a slab of beef to take down. Finally, Omarax isn't all that powerful, but his attacks cause disenchantment and drain charges, so he's just generally a pain to fight.

Oh wait, Waldern's no problem. We can kill him.

Annoyingly, looking at the item list the only endgame consumable in sight is a Scroll of Mass Banishment. I was hoping for more. Still, there's probably lots of artifacts in the vault; odds are good one of 'em will be an upgrade.

While digging this antisummoning corridor, I could see the Tarrasque awake and about and ready to tear Freude's face open, but by the time the corridor's complete, it's disappeared. So have a bunch of other uniques. Weird. Huan's still there, though...oh. Oh.

See that "He can destroy weaker monsters" bit there? What that means is that if Huan wants to move into a space and there's a weaker monster there (I'm guessing that just means "lower-level than Huan"), then he's moving into that space, and the monster in his way gets deleted. Like with *Destruction* and getting crushed by earthquakes, the monster isn't killed, just removed from the level (along with whatever they were carrying).

I didn't think it worked on uniques. In fact that's probably a bug, since it means that most times when Huan appears with Carcharoth (which is often), Huan will end up eating Carcharoth before the player can do anything. I'm not complaining, though. Vecna, Ungoliant, and Huan of course are still around, but Carcharoth, Omarax, and most crucially the Tarrasque, are all out of the picture.

Huan, Wolfhound of the Valar disappears!

Oh wait, Carcharoth is still here.

Carcharoth, the Jaws of Thirst disappears!

Vecna's pinned in by scrubs and can't get out; while trying to wake them up so he can get pulled out, I wake up Waldern. He lasts five rounds.

Finally, unable to pull Vecna out, I step into his sight:

Vecna, the Emperor Lich casts a ball of nether. You resist the effect!
You activate [our Cesti of Fingolfin]. Your Set of Caesus grows magical spikes... The Scroll titled "aedo cone" of Mass Banishment was really a monster! The Scroll mimic dies.
Vecna, the Emperor Lich tries to teleport away.

On the plus side, Vecna's gone. On the minus side, the only treasure we knew we were interested in was fake

Nothing else of interest happens while clearing the eastern side of the vault, but when we open the middle,

The Hand druj commands you to go away.

Teleport Other is just as potent in the hands of the enemy as it is in our own! I start digging our way back to the vault (I don't fancy trying to access it from the west), but then Vecna shows up:

Fortunately, we manage to finish another tile's worth of digging before he reaches melee. Unfortunately, there's nowhere to safely drop our staves and wands (his fireball and manastorm attacks would destroy them), so he'll be draining charges during this fight.

The greatest of all undead sorcerers, even the gods once feared him. This ancient shadow of death wilts every living thing it passes.

You smite Vecna, the Emperor Lich (149). You smite Vecna, the Emperor Lich (116). You smite Vecna, the Emperor Lich (146). You smite Vecna, the Emperor Lich (299). It was a *GREAT* hit! You smite Vecna, the Emperor Lich (89). Vecna, the Emperor Lich hits you. You feel your life draining away! Vecna, the Emperor Lich hits you. You feel very clumsy for a moment, but the feeling passes. Vecna, the Emperor Lich misses you. Vecna, the Emperor Lich misses you.

The fight goes well for the first half, with Vecna flubbing several melee attacks and casting inconsequential spells (summoning a Glabrezu that can't even see us). He does manage to drain the charges on our Staff of Speed though Then

Vecna, the Emperor Lich smashes you with psionic energy. You feel yourself moving slower! You resist the effect! You resist the effect! You resist the effect!

I hate hate hate brain smashing. There is, as far as I'm aware, absolutely no way to clear temporary slowing short of just waiting it out, and in the meantime he has a minor speed advantage over us. That makes the fight considerably more dangerous, since he could theoretically double-turn us and cast back-to-back manastorms or something.

Realistically the best choice at this point is to teleport him away, but fuck that We stick around, and laugh in Vecna's face as he tries to frighten us of all things (BONY MAN IS NOT DOGGY, SO FREUDE FEARS HIM NOT!), summons a Killer Red Beetle (oh no, they can drain Strength! ), and sticks to melee for the rest of the fight. We have to heal a few times, but we have Potions of Healing to spare.

You smite Vecna, the Emperor Lich (143). You have destroyed Vecna, the Emperor Lich.

Get outta here, Vecna!

His drop: Bolts of Flame and some Armor of Resistance. Maaaaaan.

That business done, we tediously dig back to the vault, where a horde of Dreads swarms out and impales itself on our mace. One of them drops a Scroll of Recharging, handily enough.

Of course, we still have that Hand Druj to deal with. Rather than get into LOS of it and try to teleport it away, I opt to burn a Scroll of Banishment on it. A bit lazy of me, but drujs are annoying and I don't want to risk getting teleported on top of Huan or Carcharoth. Or worse, both.

We've cracked the center of the vault! Our spoils: A Great Storm Wyrm barges in and blows up one of our Rods of Teleport Other, but in exchange drops a Scroll of Mass Banishment. Ehh, fair trade.

Ungoliant has a similar problem as Vecna did: she's blocked in by weak monsters on both sides. I haste up, duck into view, and use Fingolfin's activation to kill a Shimmering Mold, allowing her to break free, and then of course to get teleported away. Her only action is to cast a fear spell.

Aside from hitting level 49 (1142 max HP!) off of a Potion of Experience, othing else of interest happens in the vault. Not even any more artifacts. Phooey. This level's far too dangerous to keep exploring, so I move to the next one by the simple expedient of returning to town and then recalling again. Handily, this lets us drop off the Scroll of Mass Banishment so it won't get destroyed.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4500')

Ungoliant's back again. She just won't leave us alone! Well...y'know what, let's give her another shot. I use a Wand of Stone to Mud we picked up to quickly dig an anti-summoning corridor, and here she comes!

Ungoliant, the Unlight invokes a storm of darkness. You resist the effect!

Once again, we aren't blinded, but we just ate about 500 damage. Fortunately we have a large stock of Healing potions. I just hope it's large enough We also have a minor speed advantage: +33 to her +20. Even if we lose our temporary speed we'll still be able to avoid being double-moved.

Ungoliant, the Unlight breathes darkness. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! *** You resist the effect!

Her last big move, and we're down to 373 HP. Two Healing potions puts us back to near-full-health, though. We still have 7 more, and she's down to about 40%. We're winning!

Oh, that rat bastard. There's a Greater Titan coming up behind her. He'll pick up all her loot! We do resist confusion, but his 4 12d12 melee attacks are still gonna hurt. Nothing for it, I suppose. For comparison, Ungoliant's melee is 2x 8d6 poison claw, 8d10 paralyzing bite, and 8d4 STR-draining sting. It's nothing compared to her darkness storm and breath attacks.

You hit Ungoliant, the Unlight (80). Ungoliant, the Unlight flees in terror!

She runs into the titan and turns to fight, but

You hit Ungoliant, the Unlight (76). You hit Ungoliant, the Unlight (79). You hit Ungoliant, the Unlight (116). It was a great hit! You have slain Ungoliant, the Unlight.

That's one ancient primeval evil down! It cost us rather heavily in healing resources, but we still have a healthy (ahem) supply.

In three rounds of combat the Greater Titan takes us down to 600 HP; we drink a Potion of Healing, and next turn he knocks us back to 600 HP again. Ouch. He can't keep up those kinds of numbers indefinitely though, and we wear him down.

Between the two of them, they drop some Boots of Speed <+6> and nothing else

Oh hey, that's Maeglin and Fundin Bluecloak up there. I don't believe I mentioned it earlier, but lore has it that Fundin was one of the devs' D&D characters. Maeglin, as you may recall, is Mini-Morgoth: he bores through rock and casts lots of summoning spells. We can take him now, though; his direct-damage capability isn't all that great. It's just a question of limiting his ability to summon. Tricky.

Especially tricky when he wakes up before we're ready. Freude, your stealth is abominable. Oh well...

We trade blows for awhile, and then Maeglin casts his first spell.

Maeglin, Traitor of Gondolin summons ringwraiths.

Those don't look like ringwraiths, buddy! This is our confirmation that we have, in fact, killed them all; if any ringwraiths were left alive this spell would have pulled them instead of miscellaneous high uniques. That Archlich is going to be a problem though, since he can walk through walls to us. I try to kill the Master Vampire in the hopes that the lich will move west instead of northwest, but no dice:

Remember we can't teleport away any monster that's standing in a wall, as the teleportation bolt will just hit the wall instead. Time to phase away.

This'll do.

The Archlich disappears!

We pepper Maeglin with a few Arrows of Slay Evil from our frankly gigantic stash while he moves into melee, and then start the beatdown again. He refrains from casting any more spells, and eventually turns to flee, a fatal mistake.

Your Arrow of Slay Evil (1d4) (+13,+11) pierces Maeglin, Traitor of Gondolin (140). Maeglin, Traitor of Gondolin dies.

Maeglin, at least, has the decency to drop something interesting!

Belegennon is a super-Elvenkind armor that gives resist poison. If we wanted to wear Thorin for the final fight, then Belegennon would be our go-to body armor (our current shield, Haradrim, is covering poison resistance for us).

Following this fight is an extended dance with an Archlich, a Great Storm Wyrm, and Fundin Bluecloak, as I try to get the latter on his own. Stupid wallwalking liches. Finally my goal is achieved:

Fundin honestly isn't all that dangerous, so we don't need antisummoning tactics against him. In fact the only spell he casts in the entire fight is Cause Mortal Wounds, and Freude actually makes his saving throw! Naturally, his drop is crap.

This is a cavern level, and we're finally free of the uniques, so let's move on.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4550')

Another cavern level. Cripes, game! Nothing significant accosts us en route to the next staircase. We do get another Rod of Detection off of a Dreadlord, though, which makes me notice that we have 10 such rods and only 4 Rods of Trap Location. Time to lose the Trap Location rods and free up another inventory slot.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4600')

Ehh, nothing interesting in sight. Fun fact though: Freude's level is now high enough that Protection from Evil can prevent Ancient Multihued Dragons from meleeing him. They're only level 43; he's level 49!

Quaker, Master of Earth is the last of the elemental uniques. He moves at normal speed. He does get two turns before dying; in one he whiffs all his melee attacks, and in the other he fails to cast a spell. Goodbye, Quaker! He does have powerful melee (for his native depth of 2150'), but there's no reason you should ever fight him without having a speed advantage, so he's by far the least dangerous of the elementals.

Another pit full of demigods. Ho hum. The most annoying part about these guys is that they can all pick up items, which means paging through line after line of "The Lesser Maia picks up a Light Green Potion of Heroism" every time a new one enters melee range. I shouldn't complain though -- they give us a Scroll of *Destruction*, a Scroll of Mass Banishment, and a Potion of Speed. We hop back to town to drop them off, leaving our stash looking like this:

That's a decently healthy supply; it should be enough.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4650')

Nothing interesting, unless you count Huan to our southeast. Let's not.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4700')

I chug a spare Potion of Enlightenment, see nothing interesting again, and hit the stairs.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4750')

Okay, that looks interesting. Enlightenment, go!

An image of your surroundings forms in your mind...

Aw, heck yeah! This is the "Bubbles" vault! It's not quite the most lucrative vault in the game, but it comes close. The cells are all blocked off from each other by diggable walls, which means we have a lot of control over when to start fights and with whom. Of course, we have to dig to the entrances first (in the southwest and northwest corners).

We can see Gothmog, High Captain of the Balrogs in there, with an escort of Greater and Lesser Balrogs. He's a decently tough customer. There's also the Mouth of Sauron (the purple p near the northeast corner), who's a pain in the ass to fight (disenchanting melee, and all of his spells are either big damage or summoning nasty monsters), but fortunately he's locked in and can't get out. We'll just leave him there.

Also, there's a graveyard to the southwest holy shit. Graveyards are bad news, guys. We are not clearing that one the hard way.

Right, this is as close as we can get.

There is a searing blast of light! You have 4 charges remaining (on our Staves of *Destruction*)

Unfortunately this blew up some of the treasures in the vault (and of course the items that were in the graveyard), but it's worth it. Fuck graveyards, guys. They suck.

(Notice that *Destruction* doesn't affect permanent walls. No fair sneaking into vaults by clipping them with nuclear bombs!)

From here we can see another unique: Draugluin, Sire of All Werewolves. He's two tiles to our northeast. For a unique native to 4150', he's not all that powerful; weak melee and his spells are just Fear, Summon Hounds, and Summon Monsters.

There's also a Master Quylthulg to our southeast. We'll just leave him be. Mucking with quylthulgs is not my idea of a fun time.

Draugluin, Sire of All Werewolves summons some friends.

Bleah. Me and my big mouth. Again, archliches show up to spoil the party...and that Hand Druj is no fun either.

The Archlich disappears! The Hand druj casts a bolt of fire. Some of your Mulberry Staves of *Destruction* were destroyed! One of your Arrows of Slay Evil was destroyed! One of your Scrolls titled "propera" of Phase Door was destroyed! Draugluin, Sire of All Werewolves claws you. Draugluin, Sire of All Werewolves claws you. Draugluin, Sire of All Werewolves bites you. Draugluin, Sire of All Werewolves bites you.

Stupid fire attacks! Oh well, these staves are nearing their end-of-life anyway; we won't be able to use them effectively against Sauron or Morgoth, who both drain charges in melee.

After a bit more fighting, the arena looks like this:

The northeast hound here is an Aether Hound; they have access to almost every element in the game. This sounds dangerous, but really it means that their spell pool is diluted by a bunch of chump elements we don't care about (poison, light, dark, shards, acid, etc.), so the odds of it doing something really nasty are low. Then again, given my luck in this fight...let's phase away.

Better. I don't know why I didn't do this to begin with. Without his buddies backing him up, Draugluin falls in short order. His drop: a {magical} Golden Crown. I guess that's appropriate

That done, we start working our way through the vault, and discover this in one of the tiny cells:

Oh my yes. 611 damage against evil creatures! Nearly as good damage against undead and demons as our Mace of Gondolin! The only problem is that we need Aglarang to maintain speed parity -- we aren't going to try to fight Morgoth without being able to hit +30 speed, since otherwise he can double-move us. But if we improve our speed, this is definitely an endgame-quality weapon.

Nothing else interesting happens in this bottom row of the vault, though we find a preposterous number of weapons of Extra Attacks, some of which do quite nice damage indeed.

Working our way around, we tear through a bunch of scrubs (though I suspect the Bile Demon would have objected to being called that ) and find a Cloak of Aman that gives disenchantment resistance! With this, maybe we can kill the Mouth of Sauron after all...

Okay, now who the heck designed this place? That's a Giant White Louse! On a tile that is supposed to have a monster up to 40 levels out of depth! I don't care what definition of "out of depth" you use, this guy is not it.

In another cell, lying under a Mature Gold Dragon, is...oh my yes.

Gondor is one of the best hats in the game, and while we don't currently need any of its abilities, it gives us tremendous flexibility in our gear. If only it had telepathy. That activation is pretty nice too; nothing you can rely on in a pinch (because of the failure rate) but it can really stretch your healing supplies if you're low.

Lying in the center of a large cell is our first artifact ring:

It sucks. I was hoping for a Ring of Power

Another new toy!

Telepathy on a cloak slot is pretty nice. We're only getting resistance to nether from our current cloak, so with this we can finally replace our Amulet of ESP and wear one of the amulets mouldering away at home.

We're running out of vault, and here's Gothmog. Let's bust him out and bust him open!

Gothmog is the Chief Balrog in Morgoth's personal guard. He is renowned for slaying Feanor and Fingon, two of the High Kings of the Noldor Elves, and has never been defeated in combat. With his whip of flame and awesome fiery breath he saved his master from Ungoliant's rage.

Not the greatest terrain for a fight, but ironically none of his escorts can reach us anyway.

Gothmog contents himself with melee and the occasional pointless spell; he dies without ever really putting us in danger. And we hit level 50! With 1167 max HP, we have now hit the level cap. The only point to further experience points is to give us a buffer against draining attacks so we're less likely to lose levels.

Next up, the Mouth of Sauron!

The Mouth of Sauron is a mighty spell caster. So old that even he cannot remember his name, his power and evil are undeniable. He believes unshakably that he is unbeatable and laughs as he weaves his awesome spells.

We swap in our disenchantment resistance cloak, and do what we should have done against Gothmog: drop our wands and staves around a corner so they can't be drained.

The Mouth's first action? A nether ball, hitting our now-exposed weakness and draining us back to level 49 S'okay, though, the damage isn't debilitating. He follows that up with two darkness storms in a row, though, and that does hurt; we have to chug a couple of Healing potions.

Then he summons greater undead; we teleport away the Black Reaver and let the Barrow Wight and Nether Wraith stay. He follows that up with greater demons:

The blue U is a Horned Reaper, and he's about to eat the Nether Wraith for lunch (like Huan, Horned Reapers can trample weaker monsters), after which we'll teleport him away. The red one's a Nalfeshnee, and can stick around.

You hit The Mouth of Sauron (76). The Mouth of Sauron flees in terror!

You hit The Mouth of Sauron (82). You have slain The Mouth of Sauron.

And he drops something potentially helpful!

The difference between Aman cloak and Amulet of ESP vs. Magi cloak and Amulet of Weaponmastery is slim, but heck, it's better than what we had before.

And with that, we're done with the vault.

I pop us back to town to drop off some loot and restock on Potions of Healing; we drank a lot of them in that trip. I also swap in Evenstar for the Amulet of Weaponmastery; it gives resistance to dark and nether, which are popular attack elements in the late game. We can keep the Weaponmastery amulet around for disenchanters if we meet any. I also nab a Potion of Life from the Black Market

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4800')

Boring! Next.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4850')

Not boring enough fuck fuck fuck that's a graveyard where's the stairs.

(Remember that monsters in pits and nests are always awake? Black Reavers normally sleep deeply, but that doesn't matter in a graveyard. Black Reavers also bore through walls. If you pick a fight with a graveyard, you're fighting the entire graveyard, all at once. There's no way to kite them out one at a time)

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4900')

Nothing too imposing, but we're here! 4900', one level before Sauron! This level deserves at least some exploration. Just better watch out for trap doors...

You see a Scroll titled "agum mat voleo" of Deep Descent.

Very funny, game

The Jabberwock wakes up.

Oh, now this guy is out of place. Why is a monster from Lewis Carroll in Angband? I have no idea. Jabberwocks are straight-up melee beasts with 4 10d10 melee attacks per turn and the occasional chaos breath, but they have so few HP that they drop quickly; he only lasts 5 rounds. Interestingly, they do have drops unlike most "natural" monsters, and he drops an artifact!

Isildur's kinda crap now, though.

Oh hey. Another vault! Let's get a bit closer to you.

I believe this one is called "The I in the Storm", I guess because the center kind of looks like an I? Someone's fond of stupid jokes. And y'know, I'm sure there's neat stuff in there and all...but the layout is horribly bereft of cover, and honestly Freude has enough gear for the endgame now. Plus, looking at the layout in the vault definition file, there aren't very many lucrative item drops in this vault. Huan and Omarax are both present, along with a few other monsters I'd just as soon not fight. Let's just...leave this one be. You guys have fun in there!

Way over in the northwest corner of the map,

Qlzqqlzuup, the Emperor Quylthulg summons hydrae.

Yeah, y'know what? You also get to live. Freude is generous!

4900' is done; it's time to return to town and prepare to fight Sauron. Once we go to 4950', there is no escape from the dungeon until he is dead -- we cannot recall, nor take up staircases, due to the "forced descent" option. Likewise, if/when we go to 5000', we must kill Morgoth before we can return to town.

Next time, we're going to stab Sauron and Morgoth in their respective faces. Over and over again. Until they rethink this whole "physical incarnation" business.