Part 35: Phenomenal Cosmic PowerUpdate 35: Phenomenal Cosmic Power
Last time, Bryson II started falling through the dungeon, much like a chunk of burning thermite punching through the deck steel of an aircraft carrier, only more easily distractable. Speaking of which, we head back to town to drop off some of our less-shiny toys. Prior to heading back down, here's what we look like:
Stats and abilities:
Our HP is still too low for comfort, and we could stand to gain some character levels, but otherwise the only remaining major problem is our continuing lack of offensive spellbooks. The lack of poison resistance is arguably a problem, but we can stay on top of it with spells, as long as we're careful.
Right, let's get back to the dive.
At 4250' we encounter Baphomet, the Minotaur Lord (the purple H):
He's an especially dangerous customer, in and out of melee range. Best to just teleport him away, rather than risk him waking up while we prepare for the next level.
At 4300' we spot the very edge of a Graveyard to our east:
If we could cast Banishment, it'd be tempting to clear the Graveyard out by simply banishing all of the residents, since Graveyards can have nice items in them. Out of curiosity, I use one of our Potions of Enlightenment, and discover that there's also a vault on the level:
Unfortunately the item list shows nothing super-tempting in it, so we'll just give it a pass.
4350' is a cavern level, and we have a completely ridiculous string of failures with Stair Creation:
That's a 1 in 2048 chance. We had to stop and rest to recover mana partway through!
4400' has what looks to be a vault to our south:
Enlightenment confirms that it's a small one, and also shows us Ji Indur Dawndeath is back, to the northeast:
Pazuzu is in there, along with several demonic buddies and a Greater Demonic Quylthulg. The loot's pretty slim, but on the other hand the vault's so small that I think we can plausibly stealth it -- just teleport everything away and take the items on the ground.
Pazuzu wakes up early, but that just means that he comes to us to be teleported away. We also teleport away several demons and a top-tier adventurer group (Berserkers are really annoying to deal with), and discover that our melee is strong enough to deal with monsters from the 1000'-2000' range! We deal about 74 damage/round against evil!
Sadly, the only loot was learning what Staves of Holiness look like:
Looking at the code, the damage is 120, so it does the same damage as the Staff of Power, albeit only against evil targets. Still, this is a vaguely plausible weapon for dealing with Ji Indur Dawndeath and similar annoyingly-resistant evil monsters.
Anyway, let's continue on.
4550' has another vault:
Enlightenment reveals it to be a big one:
Most importantly, check out the item list:
Way down at the bottom there. It's Raal's Tome of Destruction! It's a miracle! Of course, we have to get into the vault to extract it.
Looks like this vault is named "Interstices", and it is of course chock-full of nasty creatures. This is all we can detect from safety:
Of the top uniques, the only vaguely plausible one for us to fight is Glaurung. Odds are they'll all get teleported though. Fortunately Waldern is locked away behind granite walls, because he destroys items when he walks on them. We don't want him walking on our spellbook!
We banish Ancient Dragons for now. There aren't any other clusters of monsters all sharing the same symbol, though; pretty much everything else is either unique or only a single instance...
Scratch that, those are Gravity Hounds straight west of us. Time to banish hounds! We absolutely cannot afford getting teleported around right now.
Glaurung helpfully steps out of the vault to say hello:
The major problem with fighting him is that he can summon Ancient Dragons. We do have the Staff of Banishment to potentially deal with them, but there's an 8.6% chance that we'll fail to use it; I'm not going to risk our lives on fighting him.
Glaurung, Father of the Dragons disappears!
A pity, because I'm pretty sure we could kill him if we just had a way to deal with his summons.
Draugluin, Sire of All Werewolves disappears!
Ancalagon the Black disappears!
Pazuzu, Lord of Air disappears!
More uniques come to us and get bopped across the level for their trouble. When you only have 424 HP you really cannot afford to take chances.
The most pressing targets have all been removed from the vault, leaving the way open to make a dash for our spellbook.
You have a Book of Magic Spells [Raal's Tome of Destruction]
New spells! Pardon me while we learn and cast them each once.
- Shock Wave: "Shoots a radius-2 sound ball. Apart from doing sound damage, this also has a chance to stun each monster in the area of effect." Stunned monsters are completely helpless until they recover from the stunning; they take no actions (stunning is effectively paralysis for monsters). Unfortunately the odds of stunning, and the duration if stunned, are both very low in my experience.
- Explosion: "Shoots a radius-2 shards ball." Not a very good damage-to-mana ratio, but very few monsters resist shards. Still, there are better options, especially as shards blows up potions.
- Cloudkill: "Shoots a radius-3 poison ball." I guess the large radius is meant to make this a good spell for killing groups, but with the way damage falls off with distance from the epicenter, it makes little difference unless you're fighting something really weak.
- Acid Ball: "Shoots a radius-2 acid ball." Acid comes in handy frequently, but our wands have much better damage.
- Ice Storm: "Shoots a radius-3 cold ball." This is a misprint: the damage is ice, not cold. Ice is a separate element that causes stunning and cuts when used on the player; against monsters it just stuns. Functionally this is basically a bigger Shock Wave with a better damage-to-mana ratio.
- Meteor Swarm: "Shoots a swarm of 3 or 4 meteors. Meteors will travel until hitting a wall, a monster, or reaching the target location. Meteors will explode as a radius-1 ball that deals unresistable damage to each monster in its area of effect. If this kills the monster that blocked the path to the target location, the next meteor may continue to find another target." Awright! Meteor Swarm is excellent burst damage, especially when we get the 4th meteor (which will happen when we get to character level 40, if I recall correctly). Meteor damage does destroy some items though. And the spell is hard to cast -- note the 7% failure rate even with our maxed INT. That will drop as we gain levels.
- Rift: "Fires a gravity beam that hurts each monster in its path and has a chance of teleporting it away." Gravity damage is unresistable, and while the player version doesn't slow or stun its targets, this spell still deals excellent damage (though it is quite expensive), and flinging your enemy around is generally helpful. Moreover, if you can arrange for them to get teleported back along the beam path, they can be hit by the same spell twice! Unfortunately the teleportation effect is not guaranteed.
We have a bunch of new attack elements at our fingertips; no longer will we be stymied by monsters that resist everything we can throw at them!
We're also down to only being able to learn 6 spells, now. I think there's only 8 more spells in the game, in fact. But that'll have to wait for the last spellbook, and who knows when that will show up.
Let's try out Meteor Swarm on this 9-Headed Hydra
Awesome. And now Rift!
The 9-headed hydra disappears!
Oh baby, I've missed you, Raal's. Why'd you have to stay away so long?
Getting back to the vault, sadly, part of it will have to remain off-limits:
Huan, Wolfhound of the Valar is in that westernmost cell. There's simply no way to clear a path to him without him getting at least one turn in LOS of us, and I'm pretty sure his shards breath would one-shot us if he decided to breathe it.
On the other hand, the blue p to our north is Harowen the Black Hand. We can kill him, especially with Rift to keep him from trying to steal from us. He dies without ever getting more than a couple of spaces from us. It does nearly do in our SP supply, though -- with these new expensive spells, suddenly it is very easy to run out of mana in a fight. Our wands are just as important as before, as they provide a mana-free way to deal damage.
But hey, check out his drop!
Immunity to cold on a lightsource is amazing. If only we didn't really need the protection from blindness on our lantern.
Other loot we find:
- Enough Potions of Strength to max our STR score, at 18/110.
- This amulet:
Whelp. Of course our current amulet is giving us +4 CON, which is pretty bloody important. More important than immunity to cold, that's for sure! Still, it's worth carrying this and the Palantir back to town for stowing in our home.
- An endgame-quality melee weapon:
In the hands of a warrior this could probably deal 600 damage/round vs. evil, which is absurd. Our noodly little 18/110 STR isn't nearly superhuman enough, though. It doesn't help that mages get penalized when it comes to getting extra blows/round (each class has a slightly different formula, and mages get the worst of the lot).
- Chainmail of Elvenkind, which gives shards resistance. Well hey, now we can let Huan out without potentially getting one-shotted by his shards breath.
Huan, Wolfhound of the Valar disappears!
A good thing too, because ho-ly shit:
- This ridiculous crossbow:
I think this is worth losing the regeneration our current crossbow gives.
- This impressively large flail:
It's pretty much junk, though -- way too heavy and its slays aren't especially applicable unless you really need a dedicated demonslaying weapon.
- Another big weapon!
It has similar problems as the great flail, sadly.
- This scimitar:
Now this is tempting! It's not much as a weapon, but protection from both blindness and confusion on the same slot, as well as getting shards resistance (though we're now getting sound resistance from our crossbow, so we can use the rShards Elvenkind armor full-time), are all great things. The big problem right now is that our current weapon is giving us +5 CON; switching to this scimitar costs us 92 HP, almost a quarter of our total. That's really not acceptable. Where have all the Potions of Constitution gone?
That's a really huge haul. We have to drop several town spellbooks to make room in our inventory for loot, and of course we head straight back to town to drop it all off. For now, the only equipment swaps I make are to equip the Crossbow of Tellur (gaining immunity to electricity and resistance to sound in exchange for regeneration) and to swap in the shards resistance Elvenkind armor for our old armor. But we have a lot of potential for flexibility here, if we can just line things up nicely.
And we got a new spellbook!
Back in the dungeon, 4650' sees us spawn inside a small templated room:
Fortunately, we're able to sneak north and teleport away the Eye Druj (the s in the middle) without it waking up. Drujs, as you may recall, are stationary offensive spellcasters, and they can really lay down the hurt in a hurry.
Nothing much of interest happens between there and 4850', which is where I decide to stop the dive. Technically we could go all the way down to 4950', but that would set Sauron on our tail; I'd rather have a bit of a buffer zone. From here on out, we're just going to be replaying these deep levels until we're strong enough to win the game. Or until something kills us, of course.
What we need before the endgame:
- Maxed CON. At the very least we need 600 HP, which is the max damage that Morgoth's manastorm can do.
- More levels. Our spells scale in damage with level, as does our magic device skill, so level is the primary determinant of our offensive power.
- A nice stack of Wands of Annihilation, if possible; they'll make a good basis for our offense.
- A good source of *Destruction* and Mass Banishment effects. Fortunately we can use Staves of *Destruction*, since we won't be in melee and thus don't have to worry about drain-charges effects.
- Ideally, the last spellbook.
For now, this is what we're looking at:
Those Nether Hounds to the southeast are a good source of EXP at nearly 7k apiece; we'll be seeking out such targets to help us level faster. We make good use of Ice Storm and Acid Ball against them.
Welcome to level 38. You can learn 7 more spells. 2 Nether Hounds die.
Finding that last spellbook would be so lovely. Anyway, we now have 433 HP and 296 SP.
A bit southeast of our start, we find this intimidating room:
Gothmog, High Captain of the Balrogs, Lungorthin, the Balrog of White Fire, and the Balrog of Moria are all packed into that northwest room, along with a Greater Balrog and 4 Lesser Balrogs. This is just a wee bit excessive. Unfortunately, Gothmog is awake. I'm briefly tempted to try to fight him, and then I come to my senses and just leave the level. Why take chances?
You enter a maze of up staircases. (back to 4800')
We chug a Potion of *Enlightenment* we found mostly because, hey, they give a permanent WIS bonus, so why not? There turn out to be two vaults on the level: "Crown" and "False Wall".
Notable residents: Atlas the Titan, the Phoenix, Ar-Pharazon the Golden, Carcharoth the Jaws of Thirst, a Grand Master Mystic, and a couple of Great Wyrms.
Notable residents: Draugluin, the Sire of All Werewolves, the Lernaean Hydra, Lungorthin, the Balrog of White Fire, Gothmog, High Captain of the Balrogs, Ji Indur Dawndeath, Gorbag the Orc Captain (), the Balrog of Moria, Shelob, Spider of Darkness, Tselakus the Dreadlord, Baphomet the Minotaur Lord, and Saruman of Many Colours.
...um. Part of the problem with running around so deep like this is that it can be hard to deal with any aspect of a vault, since there's so many unkilled uniques out there.
Naturally no sign of the last spellbook either, but there is one Potion of Constitution!
Time for a bit of cheese:
We have a Greater Demonic Quylthulg here. Due to the asymmetric LOS rules, we can see it, but it can't see us. So we can shoot it down with spells without it being able to do anything in its defense. An easy 20k experience.
Fundin Bluecloak is loose on the level, and we ought to be able to handle him. He's immune to all basic elements, but that's no longer a dealbreaker for us!
We lead off with Drain Life though; no sense in sparing our big wands.
You have 1 charge remaining. Fundin Bluecloak grunts with pain. Fundin Bluecloak summons some friends.
Bleh. The only big problem is the Nexus Vortex in the middle (well, and the Marilith -- the yellow U -- has a lot of HP to wear through). Fortunately, the Nexus Vortex can't withstand a single charge of Dragon's Flame. We then take out the Marilith with Meteor Swarm. Then we start bouncing Fundin around with Rift. We have to down a Restore Mana potion midway through, but Fundin's offense is pretty limited and all of his attack spells can be saved against (our saving throw is 75% right now). It's only a matter of time before...
Fundin Bluecloak cries out in pain. Fundin Bluecloak flees in terror!
Fundin Bluecloak cries out in pain. Fundin Bluecloak screams in agony. Fundin Bluecloak dies.
His drop has this interesting little number:
As I recall, we never found any artifact rings with Freude. There's a number of nice ones. This one is pretty dang good! Replacing our <+5> CON ring with it drops our HP from 433 to 395, though, so it's not worth using full-time right now.
Time for some more cheese!
This is Qlzqqlzuup, the Emperor Quylthulg! Like his underlings he is totally helpless in this setup. It takes 81 Fire Bolts, but he dies without ever doing a thing. And hey, unlike other quylthulgs, he has a drop!
Sweet, +3 CON! We lose nether resistance and some nice sustains, but we gain 57 HP (up to 490).
Now, for that Crown vault.
Standard operating procedure: lure out the big threats in such a way that they don't even get to see us before we teleport them away. This should make a good station:
Fortunately all of the walls are made of permanent rock, so even the wallwalkers have to come at us from a predictable angle.
A Master Thief brings some of the contents of the vault to us, including a Potion of Experience. Awesome, a free 100k experience!
You feel more experienced. Welcome to level 39. You have no more Green Speckled Potions of Experience.
500 HP, 303 SP!
You see Atlas, the Titan.
Hm. Atlas doesn't actually have any significant ranged attacks beyond boulder-throwing, and we have plenty of Potions of Healing if necessary. He's immune to all basic elements, but again, that's not a blocker for us any more! However, there's too many distractions for this to be a good battleground. We have to teleport him away...which is when we discover that he can bore through rock. So now we have to kill him if we want to finish off this vault. Whelp.
Rift tosses him in a good direction for us to flee a bit. We want to be away from the vault so we can safely Phase Door if he gets too close. Remember, Rift doesn't always teleport its targets, so we need a backup plan if it fails.
This should be good.
Remember what I said about Phase Door? I sure didn't. Atlas got too close, and instead of using Phase Door I hit him with Rift again...and he didn't get teleported.
Atlas, the Titan grunts with pain. Atlas, the Titan hits you. The cave ceiling collapses! You are crushed between the floor and ceiling! You have been stunned.
Okay, sure, no problem, just phase away and then heal up. He only did about 200 damage to us.
You failed to concentrate hard enough!
Right, right, stunning sets your minimum spell failure rate to 15% across the board.
Fortunately we have a speed advantage, so he doesn't follow up with more attacks, and we succeed on the second attempt. In hindsight, I should have just walked us away from him. At least we're still alive!
The dungeon's a bit of a mess though.
We play things safer for the rest of the fight, and soon enough
Atlas, the Titan cries out in pain. Atlas, the Titan screams in agony. Atlas, the Titan flees in terror! Atlas, the Titan dies.
I love you, Meteor Swarm Though, using it as a finisher like this isn't especially wise, since the meteors can destroy items. If you kill your target with the first or second meteor, then the followups can destroy the newly-dropped items. Fortunately he died on the third meteor. 72k experience! And his drop: Boots of Speed <+8> (a good effort), an Amulet of the Magi (ironically not very useful to us), a Potion of *Healing*, and a Wand of Dragon's Breath:
So it's like a Wand of Dragon's Frost or Wand of Dragon's Flame, except less reliable. Fantastic.
Back at the vault, we teleport away a few more big monsters and get to looting. Check out this sword!
If only it had some slays, this would be a great sword. Alas, that's about it for the vault.
Heading back over to the False Wall vault, we run into the Phoenix, who we'd teleported away earlier.
The Phoenix only has 3600 HP, which is pretty low these days; he also doesn't resist cold, so our Wand of Dragon's Frost should do well against him. And he's only at +10 speed while we're at +30. Making certain we have doubled fire resistance going, we start the fight, but after a few passes...
The recharge backfires! There is a bright flash of light. You have no more Titanium Wands of Dragon's Frost.
Oh well, we got some good shots in before it blew up, and he's nearly dead. We just finish him off with Frost Bolts instead. His only offensive action is to breathe light at us, for a pathetic 11 damage.
Welcome to level 40. The Phoenix dies.
516 HP, 311 SP. He only drops a magical Main Gauche, but oh well.
En route, we run into several more non-unique monsters we'd teleported away earlier. Rather than deal with them and their pals in the False Wall vault, we just invoke our Staff of Banishment, against Gs, Vs, and Ds.
Right, so, the False Wall vault. Here's what we can detect of it right now:
Gothmog and Ji Indur Dawndeath are both out and about. Ji is killable; Gothmog isn't. Whether or not we get to kill Ji is going to depend on who's first into the corridor we're digging with Stone to Mud...
Oh, and Draugluin is awake too. Great? We could probably take him; his only spells are summoning spells and he has no resists to speak of. But this place is getting a bit crowded.
First out is Ji, but both him and Gothmog can see us. We need to break up LOS. Door Creation time! With our doors up, we can step to the south, and then teleport them away as they exit the corridor.
Gothmog, the High Captain of the Balrogs disappears!
Draugluin, Sire of All Werewolves disappears!
Ji Indur Dawndeath, it's your lucky day! Not least because as of level 40, we get four meteors from Meteor Swarm! 4*50 damage for 14 mana is fantastic. Against that kind of firepower, he dies quite quickly -- and we just barely manage to avoid drinking a Restore Mana potion, having 23 out of 311 mana left.
An easy 28k experience, and he drops a couple of randarts for us to gaze admiringly at, but just leave on the floor:
Back to the vault:
Those demons have got to go. Banishment time! That still leaves Carcharoth, Lungorthin, Tselakus, the Lernaean Hydra, Shelob, the Balrog of Moria, Saruman, Baphomet, and a Nightwalker (ultimate-tier wraith)...but, again, lure-out-and-teleport should work against all of them.
Carcharoth, the Jaws of Thirst disappears!
The Berserker disappears!
The Nightwalker disappears!
The Lernaean Hydra disappears!
Lungorthin, the Balrog of White Fire is still asleep. Considering how long we've been on the level, he's a deep sleeper indeed. I actually decide this would be a good time to fight him. He's separated from his escorts thanks to our liberal use of Banishment, and if the fight goes poorly, we can just step around a corner and be out of LOS. The only problem of course is that he's immune to fire and our Drain Life wands (like all demons, he doesn't count as a living creature), and our Dragon's Frost wand got destroyed. So we'll have to do this solely with spells.
The Soft Leather Armour burns up! Lungorthin, the Balrog of White Fire shrugs off the attack.
That's the problem with Meteor Swarm: the collateral damage. Oh well. If it could be destroyed by the elements then we didn't want that armor anyway.
Lungorthin, the Balrog of White Fire shrugs off the attack. Lungorthin, the Balrog of White Fire breathes plasma. You have been stunned.
150 damage; not bad. Stunning is annoying, but survivable.
Lungorthin, the Balrog of White Fire summons major demons.
A Marilith and a Nalfeshnee. Could be a lot worse! They're in the way, though. Rather than try to kill them, we just teleport them away.
The Marilith disappears! Lungorthin, the Balrog of White Fire breathes fire. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***
If we didn't have Resist Fire up, then we'd be dead right now. His firebreath deals 1600 damage unresisted, or 533 with resistance; we only have 516 right now. Temporary + permanent resistance cuts it down to an entirely-manageable 177.
When he reaches melee range, we simply Phase Door away, taking us out of the vault.
Annoyingly, we have to chug two Potions of Restore Mana to finish out the fight; he just has too many hitpoints. But the outcome wasn't really in doubt. 81k experience! Awesome drops!
Another endgame-quality weapon for melee characters:
It doesn't look very impressive in our noodly, uncoordinated hands, but Freude would have wrecked face with this thing.
If there was ever a stat stick artifact, this is it. But our current +5 CON weapon is much better.
Longbows of Lothlorien can potentially spawn with telepathy, making them one of the best bows in the game.
Time to take on a Knight Templar, a Ranger Chieftan, and, uh, Gorbag the Orc Captain.
The Ranger Chieftan grunts with pain. The Knight Templar grunts with pain. Gorbag, the Orc Captain writhes in agony.
Yeah, Gorbag old buddy, you are not target #1 in this fight. Sorry!
Halfway through with the vault!
Saruman and Baphomet are the remaining big threats. There's also an Istar (top-tier maiar, the yellow A), and an Eye Druj (the red s). And the Balrog of Moria is in the inner sanctum to our south, but if we could take Lungorthin, we should be able to take him.
First things first, we break the wall to our southwest, kill the inhabitants, and seize the Potion of Constitution!
You feel very healthy!
556 HP! Our internal CON stat is now 18 (or 18/170 after equipment modifiers), which means the next few potions should get us significantly larger gains.
Also. Uh. We found a Ring of Power.
Yeah, this can replace our <+5> CON ring, even if the single-point dip costs us 40 HP. Wow. I don't think the Ring of Gaind can compete with this. Off-weapon brands are hugely powerful, since they can work with any weapon; if you found a gigantic weapon with no slays or brands on it, you could use it in conjunction with an artifact that had an off-weapon brand. Notably, Sauron does not resist acid, so any melee fighter would love to have this ring for fighting him.
We just want it for the CON, stealth, acid immunity, and resistances/sustains, but that's more than enough already. We're now immune to both acid and electricity! ...and still not resistant to poison
In the base game there's 4 Rings of Power: the Elvish Rings Narya, Nenya, and Vilya, and the One Ring. The One Ring may just be the rarest item in the game, while the Elvish Rings are decently rare. Each gives immunity to an element, bonuses to all stats, and a raft of resists and abilities.
Saruman and Baphomet appear to be stuck behind other monsters. Neither of them can push past what's in their way. That's kind of weird; I'd expect at least Baphomet to be able to push past weaker monsters. We'll just leave them be. That just leaves the inner sanctum:
The problem here is that both the Balrog of Moria and Shelob, Spider of Darkness are present, and we only want to fight one of them. So we'll crack this open and then teleport away the first one out.
As it happens, the Balrog gets teleported. So we're fighting Shelob! Shelob can breathe powerful poison, so we'll want Resist Poison up constantly. We activate it, and then flee for the corridors:
Fortunately we have a large speed advantage (Shelob's only at +10 speed). Shelob also only resists acid and poison, and has 3500 HP. Should be easy, right?
...and it is Though we're reduced to plinking at her with Magic Missile (now dealing 10d4 damage!) when our mana runs low. She never takes a single offensive action. Unfortunately, she just drops some Bolts of Slay Dragon. I guess we would deal nearly 400 damage/round against dragons with them, but meh. Archery isn't why we're playing a mage, even if it is a viable option.
Alas, the inner sanctum loot is just a bunch of ego-weapons and two Potions of Intelligence. Very funny, RNG. At least we scored a Potion of Experience and a Wand of Dragon's Frost from the west end of the vault.
And with that, we're done with the vault, and with this update.
Next time: bopping up and down stairs, looking for loot, levels, and lllllllotions of Constitution?