The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 24: Prismatic Spray

Update 24: Prismatic Spray

Last time, we met Bryson and took her past the earliest, most fragile stages of the mage lifespan. She's still liable to crumple if we don't treat her gently, but she now has enough options to be able to survive for awhile, if we're careful.

Currently, Bryson is level 10, and has just 56 HP and 21 SP (mana). By comparison, Freude at this level had 113 HP, almost exactly twice as much. This ratio should hold more or less steady over the course of the game.

Anyway, we're sitting on a staircase; time to try to identify some of the giant pile of potions and scrolls in our inventory:

You feel bold. You feel like a hero! You have no more Smoky Potions of Heroism.
You feel resistant to cold! You have no more Metallic Red Potions of Resist Cold.
You feel yourself moving faster! You have a Violet Potion of Speed.
Your eyes feel very sensitive! You have no more Crimson Potions of True Seeing.
You feel even bolder! You feel like a killing machine! You have a Grey Potion of Berserk Strength.
You are poisoned! You have no more Orange Speckled Potions of Poison.
You feel very good. You have 4 Copper Speckled Potions of Cure Serious Wounds.

Convenient, that -- we took a single point of damage from the poison, just enough to identify the Cure Serious Wounds potions. And we have a spare Potion of Neutralize Poison sitting around; I almost never get to put those things to effective use!

You are no longer poisoned. You have no more Indigo Potions of Neutralize Poison.
You sense no traps. You have no more Scrolls titled "misidus deo" of Trap Detection.
The air around you starts to swirl... You have a Scroll titled "laego as avus" of Deep Descent.

and now I remember why IDing scrolls by use is hazardous. Oh well, deeper into the dungeon with us!

The floor opens beneath you! (to 550')

Fortunately a kind introduction; there's no orcs in sight. Orcs (like most monsters) were trivial for Freude, but they represent a gigantic ball of HP for Bryson to whittle down; if we can't catch them all with lightning bolts or the like, then we probably won't have enough mana to deal with a single group.

You are no longer resistant to cold.
Your eyes no longer feel so sensitive.
You no longer feel heroic.
You feel yourself slow down.
You no longer feel berserk.
You no longer feel bold.

Oh well, it was a fun ride while it lasted

Okay, this is a problem:

The d is a Baby Multihued Dragon. Multihued dragons resist all four basic elements and poison. Guess what all of our attack spells are, except for Magic Missile? If we want to kill any kind of MHD we have only one spell that will work. This will eventually change, but for quite some time, monsters that resist all elements are going to be nigh-impossible for Bryson to deal with. Our best bet actually is to find some arrows and shoot the thing to death with our (+4,+3) shortbow.

Actually, our best bet is to just avoid the thing. There's no need to fight everything in the dungeon.

The g is a clay golem, and similarly immune to most of our spells. However, it has fewer HP and no ranged attacks.

It takes awhile, especially since every time we phase away the golem gets stuck in the room to its north, but eventually Magic Missile + Phase Door wears it down.

Welcome to level 11. You can learn 6 more spells. The Clay golem is destroyed.

(62 max HP, 23 max SP!)

As long as we're careful about picking our fights, they should prove quite profitable; that golem was worth nearly 100 EXP. For comparison, we need 182 to level up again.

A pack of snagas, in a bad position. There's no realistic way to get these guys out in a group and lined up for mass-kill spells, which is a shame since they're fragile (for orcs, anyway) and worth 8 EXP apiece. On the other hand, we're unlikely to get overwhelmed if we lure them out one at a time. Might as well see about taking them on.

Lead up with a frostbolt, and then finish them off with magic missiles if necessary.

The Snaga screams in agony! The Snaga flees in terror!
The Snaga dies.

Repeat several times. Then the main group wakes up, and we only have 8 mana spare:

A line of shimmering blue light appears. You have 12 charges remaining. 4 Snagas cringe from the light! The Snaga shrivels away in the light! 2 Snagas flee in terror!

Knowing what monsters are weak against, and having backup (i.e. non-spell-based) damage sources, is key to playing mages effectively. In this case, our Wands of Light make effective orc-slayers.

Mage attack spells used to be expensive. Magic Missile still cost 1 mana, but lightning bolt (which didn't always beam back then) cost something like 4, frostbolt 6, and firebolt 9. Have fun playing a caster mage when you can only cast your best attack spell three times before running out of mana!

On the other hand, mages back in the day also eventually got access to Globe of Invulnerability, at which point the game was as-good-as won. That spell sadly no longer exists.

Eventually all 16 of the Snagas die, Our loot? Some Leather Scale Mail, enough EXP to almost level up again, and 2050 AU worth of adamantite. Not bad!

I decide to level up off of disarming the traps in this room:

You set off the dart trap! A small dart hits you! You feel very clumsy for a moment, but the feeling passes.

Hey, the elven innate sustain DEX was almost useful! I say almost, because as soon as we level up our stats get restored, but hey, it's a nice gesture

You have disarmed the dart trap. Welcome to level 12. You can learn 7 more spells.

63 max HP, 25 max SP. We gained a whopping 1 extra HP off of that level. Go elven hit dice!

Some more exploring fills our pack with random crap again, and we start using up wands and staves on this Red Jelly:

Our one wand creates a beam of some sort that doesn't interact with monsters at all; almost certainly Trap/Door Destruction. And conveniently, the first staff we try is Identify, so we can verify that fact. The rest of the staves are all junk, though we keep a Staff of Detect Invisible for use in ghostbusting. A Dagger (+5,+4) replaces our Whip (+4,+4) mostly because it's almost 2 pounds lighter (and how does that work?).

And then I think to cast Detect Monsters again and see this:

Freude probably missed all kinds of neat early rooms simply because he couldn't detect monsters (and was too busy diving at mach speed to actually bother exploring). This ant pit ought to be fun; ants have few HP, so lightning bolts will be effective. We just need to be careful not to bite off more than we can chew.

And also to head in the right direction, and not get blindsided by gnome mages.

The Gnome mage casts a bolt of frost. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! *** One of your Dark Red Potions of Cure Light Wounds was destroyed!

We went from full health to 29 out of 63 HP remaining. Fortunately, Cure Serious Wounds will top us off again, and Gnome Mages can't take their own medicine; a single frostbolt puts that one to flight. But where there's one mage, there's more behind it; we burn all our mana on fighting off his friends, and have just enough to kill the last one, hitting 0 mana just as he turns to flee. Phew.

Right, this is the way we were supposed to go. And the ants are on the march! We'll just retreat to the south to pull them out...

The Wand of Light lets us see our opponents without using up mana -- helpful so we know when to start casting our attack spells. We only pulled two Red Ants this time; we can kill them, then rest back up to full. Handy.

What's not so handy is that none of the other ants are moving. I'm not sure why; they're awake and aware of us, and we're nowhere near high-enough level to inspire automatic fear in them, so they should be charging out of that pit. I have to take us around to the corner before there's any motion:

Against foes like these Soldier Ants, who needs magic?

You hit the Soldier ant (7). You have slain the Soldier ant.

If you hopelessly outclass your enemy, even a mage can fight in melee!

You miss the Giant black ant.
You miss the Giant black ant. The Giant black ant misses you.
You miss the Giant black ant. The Giant black ant bites you.
You miss the Giant black ant. The Giant black ant bites you.
You miss the Giant black ant. The Giant black ant misses you.
You hit the Giant black ant (7). You have slain the Giant black ant.

Ahem. Can fight. Not necessarily should fight Seriously, though, whacking things with your melee weapon is a good way to conserve mana, so long as you don't get foolhardy about it.

A bit of fumbling melee and a lot of spellcasting later, the ant nest is cleared out, along with its queen, a Giant Silver Ant (141 EXP!). The only loot is a Ring of Feather Falling (which we wear out of a lack of any better options), but we did get level 13 out of it -- 71 max HP, 27 max SP!

Incidentally, our spell failure rates have been dropping as we level up. All of our spells up to Teleport Self are now at a 4% failure rate, which is as low as we'll be able to achieve until we get our INT score higher. Frost Bolt is still at 12% though.

We've cleaned this level out; let's head back to town and get another spellbook!

You feel yourself yanked upwards!

You bought a Book of Magic Spells [Incantations and Illusions] for 400 gold.

Several tasty options here:

* Satisfy Hunger: "Magically renders you well-fed (but not satiated). This will also cure a bloated stomach." This help text is out of date -- you can't get bloated any more. Still, now Bryson never needs to worry about that pesky eating business again. Waaaaay back in the day this spell was named "Create Food", and when you cast it you'd get a single "Pint of Fine Grade Mush" item. How appetizing.

* Lesser Recharging: "Adds charges to a stack of wands or staves. Chance of success and number of charges gained increase with your level and decrease with level of wand or staff and number of charges. A failed attempt to recharge destroys one wand or staff from the stack." This spell is a great way to stretch your wand-based offense. To minimize the chance of things blowing up, never recharge an item if it has more than 0 charges on it; the more charges an item has the more likely it is to go boom.

* Turn Stone to Mud: "Produces a beam that destroys the first section of wall it hits, unless it is a permanent wall. Each monster caught in the beam that is susceptible to rock remover takes 20+1d30 points of damage." Being able to dig away walls while not standing next to them is surprisingly helpful. This is a lousy offensive spell though, especially considering its 7SP cost.

* Fire Bolt: "Fires a fire bolt that always hits its target. Sometimes a beam is fired instead that hurts each monster in its path. The chance to get a beam goes up with your character level." The next step up in attack spells, doing slightly more damage than Frost Bolt for the same mana cost. The failure rate is high for now, though, and lots of monsters resist fire.

* Polymorph Other: "Attempts to polymorph a single monster. Uniques are not affected." Oh man, the fun you used to be able to have with this spell. Back in the day it could turn the target into any non-unique monster. Town drunk? Turned into a Dracolich. Fun times. These days you get a result that's of similar level to the target, so such shenanigans aren't possible any more

* Identify: "Reveals the powers of an object." Free identification! Freude had to carry staves or scrolls of Identify for most of the game; Bryson is comparatively much more liberated. For some reason in the old days this spell was hard to cast. We're talking 70+% failure rate early on, taking a long time to get down to the stage where it could be considered "reliable". So everyone just spent ages trying to cast it and then resting up to restore mana. Dumb. Now it's a bog-easy spell to cast, which is much better.

We can learn 9 spells right now, so we grab all of these, plus Teleport Self from book 2. Casting them gets us two more levels, which means more spells

* Reveal Monsters: "Detects all monsters in the immediate area, for one turn only." Importantly, this also reveals invisible monsters, so Bryson now has perfect monster detection. This spell does cost 6 times more mana than Detect Monsters though.

* Acid Bolt: "Fires an acid bolt that always hits its target. Sometimes a beam is fired instead that hurts each monster in its path. The chance to get a beam goes up with your character level." It's fire bolt, except acid. Acid is effective against a wide range of monsters. Heck, even Sauron is vulnerable to it! Though if you're using Acid Bolt on Sauron, then something has gone badly wrong.

Also, 82 max HP, 31 max SP. And we blew up our Wand of Magic Missiles trying to recharge it when it still had charges in it -- not so much because we needed more charges, but because you don't get experience for casting a spell if you cancel at the item prompt. Whoops.

The Black Market has a few interesting items for us:

The most obviously useful is the Ring of Free Action; we'll need one eventually one way or another. Potions of True Seeing are always welcome for ghostbusting, but we're pretty well-equipped in that area now, actually. The Wand of Frost Bolts is seriously tempting; having a mana-free way to bust out 6d8 cold damage at will can be really handy. But we can't get both it and the ring, and the ring is more important.

I also pick up the last town spellbook, since we've been gaining levels so fast. Feast your eyes on some spells we won't have access to for a bit!

Oh man. I see one spell in particular that we are going to be best friends with. And it sure ain't Mass Sleep.

All we need from the town otherwise is a restock on Phase Door, Word of Recall, and curing potions, and we're good to go.

You feel yourself yanked downwards! (to 550')

Yeep. Ogre pit! We definitely don't have the resources to take all these guys on, especially since Ogres don't take damage from light, unlike most orcs.

Maybe this Tengu will teleport us away? But no such luck; he casts a Phase Door instead, leaving the way open to the Ogres. Oh well, we can cast the spell ourselves.

We'll just give that part of the dungeon a wide berth.

Don't mind me, just gassing some wolves to death with area-of-effect spells...

Ugh, demons. These Lemures aren't individually threatening, but at about 65 HP apiece they're far too durable to take down with spells on a one-on-one basis. Fortunately we're able to lure them into a hallway:

5 Lemures cry out in pain.
5 Lemures cry out in pain. The Lemure hits you.
5 Lemures cry out in pain. The Lemure grunts with pain. The Lemure hits you.
2 Lemures scream in agony. 2 Lemures cry out feebly. The Lemure cries out in pain. The Large kobold grunts with pain. The Lemure is destroyed. The Lemure misses you.
The Lemure cries out in pain. The Large kobold grunts with pain. The Lemure grunts with pain. 4 Lemures are destroyed.

5 lightning bolts, 5 kills. Go Lightning Bolt!

Short of taking on the Ogre pit (no thanks), there's nothing else on this level. Onwards!

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 600')

Fang's here (to our northwest), to get revenge for Grip's death. Or maybe he just smelled bacon.

A single acid bolt does him in. Shortly afterwards, we hit level 16 (88 HP / 33 SP) off of a Baby Red Dragon; unlike their multihued cousins, the single-color dragons are fairly easy pickings.

Wood Spiders like these resist poison, but they don't have the health to survive repeated lightning bolts. We manage to catch them all sleeping, and they all go down in one hit; easy pickings. Stealth really makes the mage's life easier -- both to get monsters in corridors like this, and to give a chance to run away and rest up without bringing more monsters down on your head.

Nothing much of interest shows up in the rest of the level, aside from a Priest that cast Heal Self when it was 90% dead

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 650')

Lots of homicides to commit! The adventurers nearest us are the novitiate types (Apprentices and Acolytes), while the northwestern group is more advanced (Easterling Warriors, Brigands, and a Priest). We take care of the first group easily enough, and

holy shit it's a tiger. These guys were barely a speedbump for Freude, but the combination of speed, good melee damage, and decent durability make them fairly threatening to mages. We opt to phase away, and end up here:

This is not an improvement! That Ochre Jelly is fast and has three acid attacks per round. Fortunately it's vulnerable to cold, and we have a turn and a half before it enters melee range...

The Ochre jelly is badly frozen.
The Ochre jelly freezes and shatters!

The next adventurer group falls easily, and then we have our rematch with the Tiger.

A couple of phases get us some distance:

And then we start blind-firing frostbolts down the corridor (we'd use firebolt, but its failure rate is too high). The first shot misses (the Tiger hasn't entered the corridor yet), but the second two land, putting it to flight. Killing it after that is straightforward.

Tricky: that's Grishnakh the Hill Orc and his escorts (also Hill Orcs), plus a Baby Multihued Dragon. Hill Orcs, as I mentioned earlier, aren't vulnerable to bright light, so we'd have to rely on lightning bolts to kill them. Grishnakh has 230 HP, so he's a pretty tough nut to crack, too -- though not as hard as the Baby Multihued Dragon, who has fewer HP but no exploitable resistance holes.

We don't have the resources for this fight, unless we want to gamble on getting lucky with a Wand of Wonder, so we'll just leave them all be. Again, thanks to stealth, none of them have woken up; we can just turn around and go away and they'll be none the wiser.

Exploring in the other direction, we find something that could prove helpful:

Being able to restore mana in the middle of a fight is obviously helpful, though the concomittant stat drain isn't exactly pleasant. Worth saving for a rainy day, certainly.

And that about does it for what we can explore on this level without disturbing Mr. Orc. Let's call the update here. Next time, let's see if we can't make it to 1000'.