The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 36: Sephiroth, Eat Your Heart Out

Update 36: Sephiroth, Eat Your Heart Out

Last time, Bryson II finally found Raal's Tome of Destruction, hit the bottom of the dungeon, and started cheesing her way to ultimate power. We've cleared a couple of vaults, now it's time for a new level!

How about a different new level? Gothmog is back, again (to the southeast), and we still don't want to fight him. I've a feeling he's going to keep showing up until we do finally get around to killing him. After all, his rarity is 1 (maximum commonness) and he's native to 4750'.

Case in point, this is the next level:

Yep, that's Gothmog to the southeast. More immediately relevant is Thuringwethil, the Vampire Messenger, and Ren the Unclean to our north. Ren is no big threat; Thuringwethil can summon greater undead and summon vampires, which could be irritating.

We set up to take down Ren first.

Like Ji Indur Dawndeath, he's immune to fire and cold, so we lay into him with Meteor Swarm instead of our wands.

Ren the Unclean casts a ball of fire. Your Silver Staff of *Destruction* was destroyed!

Not that we'd ever used it, but Destruction is important! For example, if we need to blow up a graveyard!

Ren the Unclean cries out in pain. Ren the Unclean screams in pain. Ren the Unclean flees in terror! Ren the Unclean is destroyed.

Love you, Meteor Swarm! Last update I noted that Meteor Swarm can destroy objects, including those dropped by your target; however, if your target doesn't have any walls behind them, you can always aim past them. If they die early, then the extra meteors will fly over their drop and explode harmlessly some distance later.

Ren's drop is nothing much. We rest up to recover mana, but are still only about 60% full when Thuringwethil wakes up:

Thuringwethil does not resist fire (though she's not vulnerable like the lesser vampires are). Go go Dragon's Flame! For some reason the only spells she casts are Blind, Confuse, and Frighten, all of which fizzle. Suits me fine! Sadly, her drop is also uninteresting.

A bit late to the party, here's Castamir the Usurper:

He's native to 1900'. The fight goes about as well for him as you might expect. To his credit, he does more damage than Thuringwethil did, getting off a single Fire Bolt that burns one of our spellbooks.

Rather than explore the rest of the level, we might as well make ourselves some stairs and generate a new one. There's little reason to stray far from where we enter the level since we can make new levels more or less at will.

To our southwest are Polyphemus, the Blind Cyclops, Saruman of Many Colours, and a Great Hell Wyrm. Saruman's the main tricky one, because he can summon. However, his melee damage is nothing much. We actually might want to stand in melee range of him. His melee attacks disenchant, but a) we don't actually care much about damage to our equipment, and b) we have resistance anyway.

First step, the Great Hell Wyrm. Double-resistance to fire is important, of course; their firebreath has a base damage of 1114 at full health.

He does breathe several times, but only after we've half-killed him, at which point the damage is negligible. Kindly, he drops a replacement Staff of *Destruction* when he dies.

Next up: Saruman!

We set up a small anti-summoning corridor, and then put in some Glyphs of Warding:

We'll see how long they last.

Polyphemus is awake, so the first step of the fight is to teleport him away.

Polyphemus, the Blind Cyclops disappears!

We probably could kill him, but Rule 1 of fighting uniques is to only fight one at a time. So let's kill Saruman!

Saruman of Many Colours shrugs off the attack. Saruman of Many Colours commands you to go away.

Eep. I really wish that spell could be saved against. Well, we have some rather imminent threats to deal with here. First is Tselakus the Dreadlord, just two tiles away from us; then, Gothmog is back with the Balrog of Moria and a big ol' pile of greater demons. Medusa the Gorgon and an Undead Beholder are also present.

Looks like Saruman managed to land us just outside a vault -- our old friend, Chambers! Might as well pillage it. Carefully.

Tselakus, the Dreadlord disappears!

We banish greater demons, and Gothmog comes out to get teleported away. That leaves the Balrog of Moria, all alone:

A good chance for a second try. Dragon's Frost makes short work of him. His drop is uninteresting aside from a Ring of Speed <+12>, which, well, it's better than our Ring of Speed <+11>, that's for sure!

While we rest up to recover mana, Medusa the Gorgon comes out and is summarily chopped down by a swarm of Drain Life bolts. Sadly, one of the wands explodes when we try to recharge them

A Mature Blue Dragon grants us a Scroll of *Acquirement*! These things are fun; they're basically super-chests in scroll form. When you read one, you get 2-4 high-quality items appropriate to your dungeon depth. I always read these things as soon as I find them instead of waiting until later, but hey, in this case, there is no later anyway!

Though in this case we just get a Maul of *Slay Evil* and a Rapier (Holy Avenger). Oh well.

We get another chance to cheese a quylthulg:

Why fight fair? The game sure doesn't.

The last denizens of the vault are downright pathetic:

Oh well; that just makes accessing the loot that much easier.

Ehh, it's nothing great.

This is impressive, though. We need our current cloak for the INT bonus, but if we ever find more INT on a different slot, then this would be worth using.

And that's it for the vault. Rather than track down Saruman, we just head back to town to drop off loot, and then make ourselves a new dungeon level.

Ancalagon the Black and Glaurung, Father of All Dragons are to our southwest. That's an encounter we want to avoid; Ancalagon will rip us a new one. Radagast the Brown has an escort of maiar and ainu to our east; again, that's probably something we're best off avoiding, along with the Graveyard to our southeast. And then there's a vault of some kind to the north.

Chugging an Enlightenment potion reveals nothing really all that interesting; not even a Potion of Constitution (or Augmentation; we've only found one of those!). Well, we might as well check out that vault, anyway.

This one is called "Lair", and the main treasure spots are the west and east ends of the inner room, which have a Giant Brown Tick and a Fire Spirit standing on them. The main threats in the vault are a Nightwalker, a Great Storm Wyrm, and a Dracolisk. Well, the Great Storm Wyrm would be a threat, but we're immune to lightning The Dracolisk is a problem because of its nexus breath; the Nightwalker is just supremely unpleasant to fight.

The Nightwalker just gets teleported away, of course. We work our way to the inner room and prepare to pull the Dracolisk out, when

Something breathes. You are hit by something strange! You're not as wise as you used to be... You're not as hale as you used to be...

Stupid Time Vortices! You'd think I'd have noticed it in the monster list, but somehow it slipped my attention. We're back down to 504 max HP. At least we aren't too far from a levelup (just 123k experience), so that should be restored fairly soon.

We back off, alert the Dracolisk by lighting the room, and teleport it away, then pound the Great Storm Wyrm and the Time Vortex into paste with meteors.

The rest of the vault is no threat. So check out this sling!

Just about the best possible sling in the game, barring bizarro randarts. The RNG is only willing to generate this kind of thing because it knows I'm never going to use it.

We also get a Potion of Wisdom and a Rod of Restoration. Restoration restores all drained stats, so hey, we got our CON back. However, it takes over 3000 turns to recharge, which makes it of somewhat limited utility, especially as rods don't recharge unless they're in your inventory, so no fair just leaving it in your home.

Time for a new level!

Vecna is to our northwest, along with a pair of Black Reavers and a pair of Nightwalkers. We'll just leave that lot alone. Vecna is going to be tricky to deal with because most of his spells either hurt a lot or summon nasty monsters. He's another case where we might want to fight him in melee range just to avoid having to deal with summons. But we'll put that off until we have more HP.

Off in the corner, just lying on the ground, we find this boring little number ():

And then in the northeast corner of the map, guarded by a Cyclops, we find something that will prove quite useful:

Poison resistance! +2 CON! Hell, and a nice activation! Our HP jumps up to 607 with this new addition. We do lose shards resistance, but at this point we have more HP than the shards damage cap, so as long as we stay topped up, we're not at risk of instadeath. And poison is frankly more important than shards.

We're stacking a ridiculous +21 to CON on our gear (+18 net after our race/class penalties), putting our total CON score at 18/180 even though our internal stat is only 18. With a few Potions of Constitution, we ought to be able to start de-emphasizing CON on our gear, which will give us significant flexibility. On the one hand, we've been amazingly lucky in getting all these CON bonuses; on the other hand, Potions of Constitution have been ludicrously rare. It all balances out.

Anyway, further exploration would require bothering Vecna, who's awake. Easier just to make a new level. A level that is bizarrely empty until we stumble onto a vault:

A big vault, as Enlightenment shows us:

It's named "Roundabout Two", and the main payout spots are in the middle and in the top and bottom corners on the right. We can already see an Arkenstone, a unique light source. No stat potions or spellbooks though.

Getting closer, we can detect just about all of the vault:

Boldor? Really? Dude, you have got to stop drinking so much. The vault's pretty safe as these things go, though. We'll want to teleport away all of the other uniques except Boldor, and maybe some of the other big monsters like the Istari, Bone Golem, and the Great Wyrm of Balance, but most of these guys are low-level enough to safely kill. Excellent.

One thing about this vault, though: it is full of traps:

You can bet we'll be getting a lot of mileage out of Trap/Door Destruction. No sense risking accidentally triggering a trapdoor or teleport trap!

First out is Ar-Pharazon the Golden:

We spar with him for a bit; our Drain Life wands actually do a good bit of damage. Might as well kill him! We phase away when he gets into melee range, and get an excellent position:

He dies after only casting one spell: Heal Self. It merely prolonged the inevitable. He's capable of summoning both more 'p' monsters (which at this depth could easily include nasties like Grand Master Mystics) and summoning generic monsters; it's good he didn't bother with either.

Alas, his drop is not noteworthy.

Ungoliant, the Unlight is after us:

If you recall from Freude's adventure, Ungoliant is the second-most-durable monster in the game (the first is Morgoth, of course). We don't want to tangle with her; even though we can tank all of her attacks, removing her 13000 HP would be a tremendous drain on our resources. So she gets teleported.

Radagast also gets teleported; most of his spells are either painful bolt spells or annoying summoning spells, with the worst being Summon Ainu. That can get out of control quickly, since Istari (which he's likely to get) can also cast Summon Ainu. Best to just nip that in the bud.

Oh, now this is sneaky. If we move to the northeast, we'll step into range of a Death Mold. We could try to kill it with splash damage, but that would take awhile. Simplest to just head to the northern end instead; there's two ways further into the vault.

Welcome to level 42. You can learn 8 more spells. The Aether vortex is destroyed.

Ha! Aether vortices don't resist meteors! Nothing resists meteors! Also, 623 HP, 323 SP.

So far so good, but that Great Wyrm of Balance is awake. We have to spend an awful lot of turns resting to recover mana after each encounter, which gives the monsters plenty of time to notice our presence. I miss having regeneration.

Well, why not? Let's try fighting him. He can breathe sound, shards, chaos, and disenchantment, as well as summon dragons and ancient dragons; of those, the latter summon and the shards breath are the big problems for us. We'll just have to hope he refrains.

20 castings of Meteor Swarm later, he's on the ropes. Great Wyrms of Balance have 4400 HP on average and Meteor Swarm currently does 4 hits of 51 damage each, so it looks like this guy is slightly under-performing in the HP department. We finish him off with an Acid Bolt, since we're almost out of mana. An easy 58k experience!

We're ready to punch towards the middle of the vault. The only thing to watch out for is that Rotting Quylthulg. Its Summon Undead spell can be very unpleasant. Still, it only has 420 HP; that's two castings of Meteor Swarm.

You dissolve the Rotting quylthulg (37). You dissolve the Rotting quylthulg (43). You dissolve the Rotting quylthulg (37). You have slain the Rotting quylthulg.

Or, y'know, three rounds of melee Quylthulgs of all stripes have no defenses beyond their HP, so even a mage can hit them reliably. And we've hit our max blows/round with our dagger: 4 blows! Freude topped out at 6, as you may recall. Mages are not really meant to fight in melee.

Sadly the only interesting thing in the center of the vault is this absurd bow:

+25 damage and an x5 multiplier is insane. If we were playing as a ranger, we would love to have a bow like this one; rangers get bonus shots/round when using shortbows and longbows.

The rest of the vault consists of concentric layers of corridors separated by granite walls, so it's easy to take them on in sections. We cleared this layer easily; it was full of Yeeks and White Wolves. And a Great Crystal Drake, but he fell easily to Meteor Swarm. The next layer is even easier; just some lesser dragons and Fire Hounds. Rift is handy here, as it always beams, so we can take out entire corridors of monsters in a single shot. Like Lightning Bolt, but much more powerful.

Time for the final showdown! Boldor, King of the Yeeks, your many crimes shall be avenged this day!

You smite Boldor, King of the Yeeks (37). You smite Boldor, King of the Yeeks (39). You smite Boldor, King of the Yeeks (41). You miss Boldor, King of the Yeeks.
You smite Boldor, King of the Yeeks (41). You smite Boldor, King of the Yeeks (41). You have slain Boldor, King of the Yeeks.

It's not often that Bryson II gets to use , but it seems appropriate in this case. Alas, his drop is about as pathetic as could be expected, but he's not the only thing we kill, and a Ranger Chieftan drops an item of interest:

This is a surprisingly nice weapon! +28 to damage, somewhat decent damage dice, some good brands and slays, good stat bonuses, and ESP! I don't really have a good feel for how much damage Freude would have dealt with this, but I bet he would have been tempted to use it.

Rather more interesting for us is this staff:

Yes, this is effectively a rechargeable Potion of Restore Mana; use it until it's out of charges, dump 50 mana into it with Greater Recharging, and then use it again! Don't ask me how that works. They're high-level items though (native to 3500'), which makes them hard to recharge successfully.

Also, here's that Arkenstone:

Nice resists there. The activation is like a Potion of Enlightenment, except that it does the "vague" object detection that you get from Detect Treasure (where items are only represented as red *s). We're pretty much steady-stating on Potions of Enlightenment, so we don't really need it; plus, we want detailed object info so we can know if a vault is worth cracking.

Alas, that does it for the vault; everything else is junk. Let's call the update here. Before we go, though, a few shots of Bryson II's status.



We're a bit overburdened, but even with the speed penalty we're still trucking along at +21 base, which is more than enough.

Character sheet:

We've spent almost half the game asleep (compare the Standard and Resting turn counts)! That's a mage's life, sadly.

Also, we're inching our way towards a 100% saving throw; if we can get there, then we'll be protected from blindness, confusion, and paralysis except as caused by elemental attacks (e.g. darkness breaths would blind us if we didn't resist darkness). That would also give us significant equipment flexibility.

Stat summary:

Next time: more vault scumming! It's gonna carry on like this for some time, I'm afraid.