Part 30: BibliophiliaUpdate 30: Bibliophilia
Last time, Bryson II min-maxed her stats a bit more and ran the hell away from an Ancient Multihued Dragon and a pair of Death Knights.
We're now at 1850', and we're level 29. This is a wee bit deep; monster density and the number of monsters that we simply can't kill both go up as you get deeper, which increases the odds that something will go hilariously wrong. We also need to start finding some serious gear upgrades. For reference, here's Bryson's current inventory:
We're carrying multiple copies of the spellbooks since they can be destroyed by fire. And the Staves of Teleportation are in case we get confused or blinded.
And here's her equipment:
That Light Crossbow we found awhile back is sitting back at home, waiting for us to get the strength to make it worth carrying. Even with our now-rather-respectable STR score of 16, we're still 12.5 pounds overweight, dinging our speed by 1 point. If we didn't have those Boots of Speed then we'd have to find some way to reduce our weight, probably by going down to 2 copies per book (each book weighs 3 pounds) and only carrying 1 staff. Being below +0 speed is a really bad idea.
What we're looking for now:
- A weapon that improves our STR or INT (e.g. Westernesse for the former, or *Slay Demon* for the latter)
- Stat-gain potions, of course
- Dungeon spellbooks. There's precisely one more spell we can learn in the books we have.
In any event, 1850' ends up being quite empty:
We do score a Lantern of True Sight, though. These are exceptionally useful lanterns as they give See Invisible and protection from blindness. Freude used one for the entire game, and depending on how the randarts work out, Bryson II might end up doing the same. This replaces our old Lantern of Brightness, so we lose a bit on our light radius, but that's less important for mages than it is for most other classes. Mages can make light with Spear of Light.
And then I forget what class I'm playing as and attempt to melee a Troll Priest.
You fail to harm the Troll priest (0). The Troll priest points at you and curses. You avoid the effects!
Shortly thereafter, we find a Bodak. Bodaks are the most powerful minor demons in the game.
The Bodak grunts in pain. The Bodak summons a demon.
And now we have two Bodaks. Bodaks aren't exceptionally dangerous; they're just decently durable and have some basic fire spells and Summon Demon as we saw here. On the plus side, they're worth 930 experience apiece for us.
I was about to despair of anything actually interesting happening on this level, until I hit the southwest corner:
Our first Graveyard! Everything in there looks pretty straightforward. Honestly the Young Multihued Dragon in that dragon pack is more threatening.
Thanks to our high stealth, we're able to take out the other dragons (a Baby Black, Young Red, and Mature Red) without the Young Multihued waking up. Then it's just a matter of hasting up and casting 15 Magic Missiles at it. Our Magic Missile is up to 8d4 damage, which isn't exactly amazing, but it can still plink things to death if you give it enough time. For comparison, Lightning Bolt is at 7d6, Frost Bolt at 11d8, Fire Bolt at 12d8, and Acid Bolt at 14d8.
Plenty of items in the Graveyard. The game likes to put treasure into these things to lure the player into trying to clear them out, since usually they're full of liches and high-tier wraiths and vampires.
Firebolt artillery is go! Zombies are weak to fire, and Fire Bolt is very slightly more mana-efficient than Acid Bolt (36 damage per mana compared to 31.5, on average). It can potentially make a difference when fighting large groups, as in this case.
At this point we're flat out of mana (I used the last of it to cast Reveal Monsters for this screenshot). Undead are just too durable to take out in large groups like this. Fortunately we have Potions of Restore Mana in our pack.
You feel your head clear. You have a Metallic Red Potion of Restore Mana.
And like that, we're back to full. Restore Mana doesn't mess around; you get it all back. These potions are a mage's best friend. Fortunately they're not so uncommon that you have to hoard them for the endgame, too.
While clearing the remaining undead, we hit level 30 (128 HP, 151 SP). This also unlocks our last available spell!
Detect Treasure: "Detects all treasure in the immediate area." It's literally the same effect as the Rod of Detect Treasure, except it costs 10 SP to use and has a 43% failure rate right now. Rogues get access to this spell from the first spellbook, at a vastly reduced cost and difficulty. We'll keep using our rods for now.
The Grey wraith points at you and incants terribly. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***
Down to 37 out of 128 HP! I hate cursing spells. This is the same spell that the Black Wraith could potentially have killed us with; we just dodged a bullet because our max HP still isn't above its maximum damage potential of 150. Walking into LOS of the rest of the Graveyard was a horrible mistake. Fortunately we're able to heal up and step back around the corner without getting blasted again.
Anyway, that's the rest of the Graveyard cleared. Notable loot:
- A Potion of Healing.
- A Battle Axe of *Slay Undead*. Horribly heavy and boosts WIS, which we don't need.
- A replacement Potion of Restore Mana.
- A Potion of Intelligence INT up to 18/134 from 18/128, SP up to 166 from 151; minimum failure rate on spells remains 2%. Gains are starting to tail off a bit here. I don't think it's worth drinking any more Potions of Intellect (the ones that boost INT but drain a random stat).
- An extra Wand of Lightning Balls. These do about 100 damage per shot for us, so that's welcome.
- A Wand of Drain Life:
These are weaker versions of Wands of Annihilation, but still quite powerful. Unfortunately they're level-75 items so we don't get much of a damage boost from our Magic Device skill. Still, we can probably kill Mim now. Note that "Drain Life" doesn't mean we get HP by using this thing; it just does flat non-elemental damage that only works on monsters that have some kind of "life force" to drain.
Not a bad haul, all told. We pop back to town to drop off some items, and while we're there, spot something tempting at the Temple:
Only +1 to STR, but it also gives Free Action, which frees up a ring slot we can use to dedicate to the STR ring we have kicking around at home. That puts our STR at 18/14, and we can just about precisely carry all of our gear and equipment without getting overburdened.
We also gain 8 HP from the CON boost (now 136 max HP), so there's that.
Just for the sake of identifying one, I buy a Scroll of Monster Confusion and read it. Watch out, monsters! Our next successful melee attack might confuse you! Who knows when that will be.
You feel yourself yanked downwards! (to 1850')
A couple of Frost Balls does for all the Phase Spiders here. Phase Spiders are assholes who spam teleportation spells, but fortunately none of them get away. The dragonpack falls easily to Acid Bolts, and then we head southwest to the stairs.
You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 1900')
Oh my goodness.
You see a Book of Magic Spells [Tenser's Transformations].
Our first dungeon spellbook! What the fuck is Tenser's doing all the way up here?
Unfortunately, Tenser's is kind of bogus for mages:
I have no idea why mages aren't allowed to learn the other spells, which as I recall are mostly combat boosters (Heroism, Berserker, Stoneskin, etc.). I mean sure, they aren't very useful for mages, but it's super lame to find a spellbook and then not be able to cast most of the spells in it!
Anyway, new spell time!
Greater 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, but are overall much better than for the spell Lesser Recharging. A failed attempt to recharge destroys one wand or staff from the stack." Like it says, it's Lesser Recharging, but Greater. There's precious little reason to use Lesser Recharging now, except that Greater Recharging costs 30 mana and has a 50% failure rate right now. Still worth it for prepping your battle wands from a position of safety.
Honestly there are other spellbooks I would rather have found, but considering that the most likely option was no dungeon spellbook, ehh, I'll take it. Thanks, RNG!
Alas, there's nothing else of interest on the level, though I do blow our confusing melee on a White Jelly. They can't be confused
You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 1900')
Man, it's nice to be able to look at rooms like this and think "No big deal." Freude didn't like fighting giants, which hit like trucks; he also had lousy stealth and would have been fighting the giants and the dragons at the same time. Bryson II doesn't melee things and has excellent stealth. This room is easy.
A bit southwest, we take out a Four-Headed Hydra and a Young Black Dragon and, uh...
You see a Book of Magic Spells [Mordenkainen's Escapes].
Man, what the heck? Mordy's isn't supposed to start showing up until 3000' (and Tenser's not until 4500'!). The RNG is off its meds. ...uh, nice RNG! Good RNG! I just hope this doesn't mean we won't see Raal's Tome of Destruction until just before taking on Sauron. That would suck.
But! New spells!
- Door Creation: "A door is created on each empty floor space that is directly adjacent to you. These doors are closed, but not locked." This spell is fantastic. You can create LOS-blockers in the middle of the battlefield with it -- and monsters that can't see you can't cast spells. It's pretty limited -- can't create doors on spaces with
items ormonsters (see below), and practically anything can open them -- but it can buy you a few more turns when you have monsters barreling in from several directions. Some players cast this spell first thing on entering each level, just in case there's something nasty and awake in the room (like a Time Vortex, say), to get them the time to cast their usual detection spells in safety.
- Stair Creation: "A stair (going up or down, chosen at random) is created on the space where you are standing. This will destroy any terrain feature that was there before. It will also destroy all items currently on the floor where the spell is cast." Ehh, this one's kind of niche. You can use it for powerdiving by spamming it and taking down staircases, but as an escape, why would you cast this instead of Teleport Level? Speaking of which,
- Teleport Level: "Teleports you 1 level up or 1 level down (chosen at random). This spell has no effect when the option to restrict the use of stairs and recall is set." Not quite the ultimate escape, but pretty close. If the current level is out for your blood, going to a new one is strongly advised, and this can do that in a single turn. I don't know what it's talking about with the options talk; I'd expect Teleport Level to always take you downwards in that case. But I admit I haven't tried.
- Word of Recall: "Teleports you from the dungeon to the town or from the town to the deepest level you have visited in the dungeon. The recall effect is not immediate; it is delayed by 14+1d20 turns. During that delay, the spell can be canceled by invoking the spell of recall again. This spell has no effect when the option to restrict the use of stairs and recall is set, unless Morgoth is dead." You should know this already.
And here's Door Creation in action:
Interestingly, the pile of silver had been just to my south; I guess it got pushed away when the spell was cast. That's handy; I would have expected the spell to fail to create a door instead. Certainly that's how I remember it behaving; I suppose it must have gotten patched at some point.
One nice thing about the dungeon spellbooks is that they're immune to the elements, so we don't have to worry about them being burned. Mordenkainen's Escapes in particular also lets us ditch our Scrolls of Word of Recall, so it doesn't cost us anything in terms of inventory space. Handy, that.
Exploring further, we kill a 7-Headed Hydra, and in retrospect, realize that fighting it was a damnfool thing to do:
It can breathe poison for more damage than we have HP, and we don't yet resist poison. If it had decided to breathe early in the fight, before we whittled its HP down, then we would have died, right there. Fortunately it refrained until we'd half-killed it, at which point the breath was survivable (if still a cause to immediately stop and heal).
We really need to get more HP. And resistance to poison, I guess.
A bit later we finally find our first Ring of Intelligence!
This replaces our old Ring of the Mouse, which is a shame since the +4 stealth it was giving us was really quite nice. Going from 166 SP to 211, and dropping our minimum failure rate to 1%, are worth it. Our INT is now 18/164, getting within spitting distance of the cap (at 18/220).
The rest of the dungeon isn't very interesting, except for a Silent Watcher that we keep teleporting away rather than bothering to actually fight. Silent Watchers can't hurt you, but they cast a number of annoying spells and they have a ton of HP. We're a mage; if we aren't abusing our spells to avoid unprofitable fights, then we're doing something wrong.
You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2000')
Looks like a cavern level, and that purple p is Lorgan, Chief of the Easterlings. Lorgon is immune to all elements and has 1800 HP; we're unlikely to be able to kill him right now.
Sure enough, it's a cavern level:
Lorgan, Chief of the Easterlings wakes up.
Oh, crumbs. Well, haste up and wait to ambush him, I guess.
Lorgan, Chief of the Easterlings disappears!
And that takes care of that.
Really, there's no profit to be had in hanging around here. Let's bust out Stair Creation.
There we go.
You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2050')
"But TooMuchAbstraction", I hear you asking, "Why do you keep diving when monsters can kill you so easily?" Because dead is dead; there's no difference between being at -1 HP and being at -400. You cannot be more dead. So if you're at risk of instadeath anyway, you might as well go where the loot is better, and that means diving.
Besides, playing a mage means being horribly fragile all the time anyway. Eventually we'll be able to survive resisted poison breaths and the like, but we're never going to have more than 700 HP or so, even with maxed CON.
The Young multi-hued dragon breathes poison. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***
It would be nice to have more than 136 HP.
Oh, lookie dat. A vault! Creeping slightly closer, we get into detection range...
You sense the presence of monsters! You sense the presence of invisible creatures!
You are aware of 96 monsters:
There's a number of problems here. Rotting Quylthulgs summon undead, and that's never fun. The Vampire Lord can cast potential-instakill curses, and the Dreads can cast nether bolts that wil merely almost-instakill us. The Ancient Green Dragon can kill us with a breath. And then there's just generally a crapton of HP to wear down in there.
Y'know, vaults are fun and all, but this looks like one of those "discretion is the better part of not getting your shit ruined" moments. There's just too many ways that things could go badly wrong.
Moving around to the north, we manage to get close enough to map a bit more of the vault:
That's enough to identify the vault; it's called "Pac-Man". There's a few nice treasure spots in it (in particular, the center has 3 of the "excellent item up to 40 levels out of depth" tiles), but sometimes the greatest treasure is getting to live.
Or maybe it's this cloak that we got from using our Wand of Drain Life on a Death Knight. Holy shit.
Our first randart! +4 INT/Stealth, protection from confusion, and free action? I wouldn't be surprised if this cloak sees us through to the endgame. We hit 249 SP and our minimum failure rate on spells finally drops to 0%. Haste Self and Teleport Other are now cannot-fail spells; this is huge. Plus, since we have both blindness and confusion resistance, there should be no situation in which we can be blocked from casting spells -- so we can ditch our Staves of Teleportation. Awesome!
Thanks, Mr. Death Knight!
Remember, randarts completely replace the standard artifact set. They are, however, "based on" the standard artifacts in a way. Each standard artifact is evaluated for its power level and likelihood of being generated (taking into account the rarity of its base item type), and then a randart of vaguely equivalent power and rarity is created. However the randart isn't necessarily of the same item type or even equipment slot.
This seems like a good place to call a break. Next time: we keep diving, and keep praying we don't get casually smeared by some wandering behemoth.