The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 38: Hubris

Update 38: Hubris

Last time, Bryson II finally found the last spellbook, and promptly went mad with power. At this point, we really have all we need to win, but if nothing else it would be good to gain some more levels (currently we're only level 44), and hey, let's spend some time unleashing our ultimate cosmic power against the hapless denizens of the dungeon before going after the Big Two.

That in mind, there's a vault over there...

Gothmog is to be expected. We should probably actually try to kill him this time. The same goes for the Lernaean Hydra.

However, I see no reason to put up with titans, beholders, greater demons, drolems, or drujs.

And we now have the ability to remove any kind of non-unique monster from the level without having to get anywhere near it. Sure, the mana cost is a bit steep, but we can always just rest up afterwards.

Kelek's Grimoire of Power is the reward for putting up with playing as a mage through the early and mid-game. If you aren't using it to cheese the hell out of the late game, then you're doing something wrong. Remember: the game does not play fair. Neither should you.

Gothmog emerges from the vault and starts chasing us down before we're really ready:

We manage to dig out an anti-summoning corridor in record time, though it costs us 2/3rds of our mana supply. Oh well, that's what our Staff of the Magi is for!

While we're here, let's check out Gothmog's flavor text:

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 flames and awesome fiery breath he saved his master from Ungoliant's rage.

Gothmog is immune to fire, of course, and also electricity for some reason. His big attacks are fire and plasma breath, and summoning ancient demons or greater undead. It's the summons that keep us from fighting in the open. Banishment/Mass Banishment are great for summons...but only if the summoner doesn't pull any uniques, and there's a lot of undead uniques still alive (as well as Pazuzu, a unique greater demon).

Like others before him, Gothmog spends half his turns walking away from the Glyph of Warding we stand on, vastly increasing the amount of time we can spend blasting him. We open up with Dragon's Frost, and then do some experimentation with Chaos Strike: decently effective, but the failure rate is irritating. As for Rend Soul, Gothmog "resists somewhat"; looking at the code, that reduces damage by 50%. My vague recollection last time was right: all evil monsters naturally have some resistance to nether attacks.

Gothmog, the High Captain of Balrogs grunts with pain. Gothmog, the High Captain of Balrogs summons fiends of darkness.

Two Master Vampires, who are chumps, and a Nightcrawler, who is not. Nightcrawler flavor text:

This intensely evil creature bears the form of a gargantuan black worm. Its gaping maw is a void of blackness, acid drips from its steely hide. It is like nothing you have ever seen before, and a terrible chill runs down your spine as you face it.

Easiest way to deal with these guys is to just take a step back, so they can't see us. Conveniently, Gothmog breaks the Glyph we were standing on as soon as we do.

Our battle plan is to use Dragon's Frost while it has charges, then Chaos Strike when it runs out; when he steps away, we recharge the wands. We also kill the two Master Vampires with melee while Gothmog is out of sight, and teleport away the Nightcrawler.

Gothmog, the High Captain of Balrogs grunts with pain. The rune of protection is broken! Gothmog, the High Captain of Balrogs hihts you. You are enveloped in flames! Gothmog, the High Captain of Balrogs misses you. Gothmog, the High Captain of Balrogs crushes you. Gothmog, the High Captain of Balrogs misses you.

Blast. That didn't last nearly as long I'd hoped. Fortunately, our third glyph lasts until he's 80% dead, at which point we easily set him to fleeing. When he returns, we do him in with Mana Storm, for the style points.

Gothmog, the High Captain of Balrogs is destroyed.

Incidentally, is it me or ought it really to be "Gothmog, High Captain of the Balrogs" instead? Oh well...

Anyway, Gothmog drops this:

This is a nice cloak! The (+7,+3) are combat boosts, and off-weapon combat boosts are always welcome, even if the +3 here isn't all that much. And of course, elemental immunities are always nice, even if cold doesn't show up all that often. Of course, we don't need combat boosts, and our current cloak is keeping us just over the max on INT, so we aren't going to use this. Still, very pretty.

And hey, Gothmog is dead! That's a reward in itself. Sadly, our Staff of the Magi exploded mid-fight, so no more infinite mana for us We'll just have to rely on our stash of 18 Potions of Restore Mana instead.

Next up, we lure the Lernaean Hydra out for a game of Catch the Meteor:

He summons hydras and breathes at us a couple of times, but with Resistance up he can't do more than scratch us. We don't even bother teleporting or banishing his summons; hydras are old hat by now. It costs us most of our mana supply, but we finally remove the Hydra's 4500 HP.

Our reward, of course, is a small amount of cash. Item drops would be too useful, you see.

We almost make it to the vault entrance, but a Dreadlord comes out to challenge us:

Dreadlords are honestly not that big a deal; certainly for their depth they aren't anywhere near as dangerous as Dreads are. Both monster types move at the same speed (+10), have STR-draining melee, and can cast nether bolts and nasty curses; the Dreadlord has more HP and some additional spells, but Dreads show up much earlier and in groups.

We've been avoiding Dreadlords mostly because we were avoiding everything. Now we kill or banish everything. This one takes 60 meteors (that is, 15 castings of the spell) in the face and topples over.

Uh oh, the Great Wyrm of Many Colours is after us! Quick, chug this Potion of Augmentation before he can shatter it!

You feel very wise! You feel very dextrous! You feel very healthy!

Our WIS and CON hit 18/***. I'm feeling really good about our stats, frankly.

Anyway, that Wyrm. Great Wyrms of Many Colours are Ancient Multihued Dragons plus a few size categories. We're either immune to or able to double-resist everythhing it can breathe, so the fact that it can hit the damage cap in any of the "low" elements (acid/fire/cold/electricity/poison) is not a big deal. All we care about is that it's worth 55k experience to kill. He has more health than the Lernaean Hydra, but not enough to save him. We unload all of our mana into meteors, and then finish him off with our Wands of Drain Life.

Then, when we stop to reload our wands, we blow up both Wands of Dragon's Frost in our inventory

The rest of the vault poses no threat (well, save that we stop to banish Quylthulgs). We pick up a Potion of Experience, a bunch of Potions of Enlightenment, and a Mushroom of Vigor, before accidentally reading a Scroll of *Destruction* and blowing up the rest of the loot. I was trying to read a scroll of *Enchant Armour* and fat-fingered it A shame, there was an un-identified amulet that could potentially have been an artifact. Probably was just an Amulet of ESP though.

Oh well, might as well roll up another level. And with 9 Potions of Enlightenment in our inventory there's little reason not to drink them.

Hey look, another vault:

En route, we kill a Great Wyrm of Thunder and hit level 45 (780 HP, 347 SP, Mana Storm's failure rate drops to 29%).

Here's our vault:

And the top of the monster list:

Draugluin ought to be killable, and Pazuzu's primary element is electricty, which we're flat-out immune to. Osse is a potential threat though. You may remember he gave Freude a rough fight.

We lead things off by banishing the drujs, titans, and demons, of course. While we're resting up from that, Draugluin pops out to say hello:

Draugluin...well, let's just run down his stats. +20 speed, 7000 HP, frankly anemic melee, immune to only poison, and his spells are Frighten, Summon Hounds, and Summon Monsters. In other words, his only way to threaten us is by summoning something nastier than he is; he has no way to deal damage effectively. It'll take a long time to chew through his 7000 HP, so theoretically he'd get a lot of opportunities to summon, but that's what anti-summoning corridors are for.

That was brief. He gave our Wands of Dragon's Flame a workout, I'll say that much for him, but he never managed to even lay a paw on us, and the only damage we took was from a single Hellhound's breath attack.

Back at the vault, we spend all our of mana on killing off a bunch of Wolf Chieftans, part of Draugluin's escort. They're irritatingly durable, with over 400 HP apiece -- enough to survive slightly more than two castings of Meteor Swarm. We have to retreat and rest up to recover mana before starting the main event: Pazuzu is awake.

...Pazuzu is awake, and stuck behind a sleeping White Worm Mass. C'mon, man, you're one of the most powerful demons in the game! Step it up a bit, huh?

We take a break to kill another Great Wyrm of Many Colours, who obligingly drops a Potion of Constitution. They're practically raining from the sky now! When we finish, Pazuzu has managed to navigate his little roadblock.

Pazuzu is immune to all basic elements, so no wands for us. He's also not entirely harmless despite our immunity -- he can cast Mana Bolt, Mind Blast, and Summon Greater Demons. Plus his melee has a physical damage component to it that our immunity doesn't cover.

In the interests of taking him out quickly, we stick to Rift for this fight. Its damage-to-mana ratio is 11, compared to Meteor Swarm's ~14.5, but it has slightly higher average damage and the potential to double-hit if we get lucky with the teleportation effect (although in this fight, it never happens). Plus, Rift can conveniently kill the weaker demons that Pazuzu summons while still dealing full damage to Pazuzu himself, thanks to its beaming effect.

His summons still manage to get some licks in on us, but Pazuzu kindly refrains from ever casting Mana Bolt, and of course he never reaches melee range because Rift keeps bouncing him around. Eventually he gets torn apart by Rift's tidal forces, and we banish his remaining summons. Victory!

Looking at the remainder of the vault...there's really nothing in there worth killing. Let's just make it all go away.

Problem solved!

That just leaves Osse:

Osse has 6000 HP, is immune to all elements except poison, and...what the hell, he resists nether? Osse isn't evil, game, so why does he have nether attacks and nether resistance? Bah, so much for making good use of Rend Soul.

Oh well, I guess that leaves meteors and Chaos Strike. Chaos Strike, even with its 12% failure rate, has a higher average damage than Meteor Swarm (263 vs. 208), and nearly as high as Mana Storm when you take its failure rate into account.

Osse's attacks are Water Bolt, Mana Bolt, Whirlpool, Blind, Teleport To (i.e. summon us to his melee range), Summon Ainu, and Breathe Nether. None of these are especially pleasant. I predict we'll go through a lot of healing potions in this fight. Oh well, we have spares.

6 castings of Chaos Strike take Osse down to 80% health, during which time his only action is to summon a couple of Blue Wizards, mid-tier ainu. That's only really a problem if they start summoning as well. We move back a bit so we can step out of LOS quickly, and Osse hits us with a Mana Bolt:

A few more castings of Chaos Strike in, and we get a beam effect, triggering the chaos polymorph effect...

Osse, Herald of Ulmo grunts with pain. The Blue Wizard changes! The Greater Maiar changes!

They turned into a Magma Elemental and a Ranger Chieftan, and are both at full health again. This kind of thing is why killing non-unique monsters with Chaos Strike is kind of unwise -- there's good odds that you'll have to start all over again fighting an entirely different monster partway through the fight. Bizarrely, the other remaining Blue Wizard also gets turned into a Ranger Chieftan a few turns later.

Osse, Herald of Ulmo grunts with pain. Osse, Herald of Ulmo casts a bolt of raw magic. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***

Whelp. Time to chug a Healing potion. Those two mana bolts are all Osse's done to attack us so far, but they've taken us to 285 out of 780 HP. I miss having over 1200 HP...

Osse steps up his offensive game, casting multiple Whirlpools and Mana Bolts at us; we have to heal a couple more times, and chug a Restore Mana potion as well. We switch to Rift at one point to take out some animals that a Ranger Chieftan summoned, leaving the battlefield looking like this towards the end:

However, Osse is on the ropes, and a single Mana Storm is enough to finally do him in. Sadly, his drop is uninteresting. On the plus side, we get to loot the vault now!

We get two Potions of Augmentation...

You feel very wise! You feel very dextrous! You feel very healthy!
You feel very dextrous! You feel very healthy!

...and our WIS is maxed out, though it was already over the effective cap. Our saving through is 95% now; I'm fairly certain that if we max our character level, then we'll hit 100%.

We also pick up two replacement Wands of Dragon's Frost, a rather nice Amulet of Trickery:

and a Potion of Experience, putting us nearly to level 46.

We bop back to town to examine our equipment swap options, now that we no longer need quite so much +CON on our gear. The obvious item to pull out is the Amulet of Andir, which is giving +4 CON and nothing else. With that off, we can swap in the Pendant of Vindir, which allows us to pull off the Lantern of True Sight we found way back at 1850', in exchange for the Palantir of Echie, gaining us immunity to cold, more stealth, and some STR and DEX we don't really care about.

Alternately, we could just straight swap out Andir for the Amulet of Trickery we just found, gaining resistance to nexus, the same stealth bonus as is on the Palantir, and +3 speed. Effectively the decision is between immunity to cold vs. resistance to nexus and some speed.

I think that latter is the better option, honestly. Immunities are nice and all, but very little does cold damage at this late stage in the game, and lacking resistance to nexus can really fuck you over if you get unlucky. I don't just mean the stat-swap effect either; getting teleported is incredibly dangerous when there's so many monsters around who can deal >50% of your HP in damage in a single action. Mind, if it was immunity to fire that'd be a different story.

Back in the dungeon, we spot a demon pit!

What demon pit?

Sadly, demon pits don't have any items placed in them as bait, so our only reward for this is not having to deal with the demons. Except they were the only thing of interest on the level, so now there's no reason to stick around. Oh well!

The next level has a bunch of tiny vaults:

Small they may be, but this first one at least is packed with nasties:

We have Feagwath the Undead Sorcerer in the northern part of the moat, Arien, Maia of the Sun in the top-center room, a couple of Time Hounds, an Archlich (the blue L) that doesn't appear to be part of Feagwath's escort, a Great Hell Wyrm, and a Great Swamp Wyrm. Also Ungoliant is off to our east.

First things first, all those non-unique liches have got to go. As do the hounds; Chaos Hounds are nice experience pinatas, but only if the Time Hounds don't drain our experience or stats first! We also need to teleport away Feagwath, since we aren't going to try to fight both him and Arien at the same time, oh no.

Much tidier. A Rift cleans up the Dreads quite neatly, and as we rest to recover from all these exertions, Arien wakes up and starts coming for us...

Flavor text:

The Maia who sails the Sun across the sky has descended into Angband to kill you. She wears no mortal shell; her body is made of fiery golden light, painfully bright even when you close your eyes, and hot enough to melt armor and flesh alike.

Naturally we want Resist Fire up for this fight. Fortunately, Arien does not resist nether, so we can use Rend Soul on her. For variety if nothing else. She has a lot of painful spells, but we should still be her superior when it comes to ranged combat.

Arien, Maia of the Sun grunts with pain. Arien, Maia of the Sun summons an ainu.

Dangit, why do they always have to summon monsters behind them where we can't teleport them away? This Istar could be a major pain if we let it stick around...and spending 45 SP on casting Banish would be extremely wasteful. Instead, we dig ourselves a tiny anti-summoning corridor:

Instead of setting up a Glyph of Warding, we'll just cast Shield for the extra 50 AC and hope for the best when it comes to melee damage.

Arien, Maia of the Sun grunts with pain. Arien, Maia of the Sun breathes plasma. You have been stunned.

Ouch. We need to heal up after that; combined with a Mana Bolt we ate earlier we're at 433 out of 780 HP. Fortunately, Healing potions clear up stunning (unlike Cure Critical Wounds potions).

Shortly after that, we have to use a Restore Mana potion as well. Stupid Arien interrupting us in the middle of our nap...

Arien's melee is dealing about 30-50 damage to us each round; her spells are definitely more threatening. We have to chug another Healing potion after a firebreath/Mana Bolt combination, but pretty soon she starts fleeing. We mop up the Istar with 6 nether bolts and a round of melee, and hit level 46 in the process -- 795 HP and 355 SP. Arien gets offed with a Mana Storm when she returns. Sadly, her drop is junk -- but at this point, we're basically only interested in artifacts anyway, so that's pretty much to be expected.

Mopping up the rest of the vault is routine after that. We get a Potion of Experience (knocking off about a quarter of the distance to level 47), another Wand of Dragon's Flame (we now have 10 of the things, and yet only 2 Dragon's Frost, 1 Drain Life, and 1 Annihilation that's still sitting back home...), and this tasty little number:

For comparison, here's our current bow:

Essentially this is a tradeoff between sound resistance and a 96% saving throw, or regeneration and a 94% saving throw. Given how much time we've been spending resting lately? I want the regeneration! But we'll keep Tellur around, in case we find an alternate source of regeneration.

The next vault on our list is in a pretty sad state:

The most dangerous thing in it is a Great Bile Wyrm, and we're immune to acid. It doesn't take long.

The third vault is more imposing, mostly because Huan and Carcharoth are present:

Carcharoth isn't too bad, but Huan has four fairly nasty breath attacks (cold, light, shards, and sound) and no other spells to dilute his casting pool. Most of the uniques in the game have a bunch of terrible spells in their pools: stuff like Frighten, Confuse, Blind, Paralyze, etc. that every character will either be outright immune to, or able to cure with a single turn. This makes those monsters effectively waste a lot of spellcasting turns. Monsters that don't have such spells, thus, are disproportionately dangerous. Huan is an example; Kavlax and the Tarrasque are others.

Fortunately, he's locked into his own little 1x1 cell, surrounded by rock, so we can just leave him there to rot.

In the outer moat of the vault, we make an important discovery:

You have an Ivory Wand of Annihilation (3 charges).

Excellent, that makes two. Three should be enough. Remember, these deal a base 250 damage to any living target; with our device skill of 114, we're getting a 54% damage bonus (since they're level-60 items), for 385 damage per shot. Mana Storm currently does 392!

Right, let's kill ourselves Carcharoth, the Jaws of Thirst.

Flavor text:

The first guard of Angband, Carcharoth, also known as 'The Red Maw', is the greatest wolf ever to walk the earth. He is highly intelligent and a deadly opponent in combat.

In contrast to Huan, Carcharoth can breathe darkness, fire, nether, and poison. He also casts spells (which include breath attacks) more often than Huan does: 33% of the time instead of 20%. However, we resist all of his elements, and his spell list has a bogus spell, Summon Hounds. That's why we've set up an anti-summoning corridor where we'll be doing most of the fighting. His melee is respectable (4x 9d12 fire bite/claw attacks), but the Glyphs should block most of it.

Carcharoth doesn't resist cold, and of course he's a living creature, so we lean on our Dragon's Frost and Drain Life wands for this fight.

You have 0 charges remaining. Carcharoth, the Jaws of Thirst shrugs off the attack. Carcharoth, the Jaws of Thirst summons hounds.

Gah! He got a Blink Dog, which could easily pull us out of our corridor (right now it can see us, even if we can't see it). Time to fall back from this position.

Our second Glyph doesn't last long; we move to the third, and Carcharoth still has 80% of his health left.

You have 1 charge remaining. Carcharoth, the Jaws of Thirst snarls with pain. Carcharoth, the Jaws of Thirst breathes nether. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***

Ow. Carcharoth may be weaker than Huan, but not by much! Nether resistance is somewhat unreliable, too -- it will reduce the damage you take, but by a variable amount which could leave you taking upwards of, if I recall correctly, 85% of full damage. We drink our third Potion of Healing of the fight, only just pulling us out of the danger zone.

We fall back to the last Glyph, and it breaks almost immediately; we have to recast it several times before it sticks (at 60 SP per cast!). Fortunately, Carcharoth spends the next dozen turns or so dancing in and out of LOS, which gives us mini-breaks in which to recharge our wands and chug potions. Unfortunately, both our Dragon's Frost wands blow up on recharge

Finally, we finish him off with a Chaos Strike! Phew. We earned that 78k experience.

The rest of the vault isn't really interesting. We snag another Potion of Augmentation (finally dragging our DEX score above 18) and some Potions of Restore Mana from the rest of the level, and head onwards.

The next level has a tasty little treat for us: a Graveyard!

Oh, you undead nasties messed with the wrong Kelek's-having mage!

All that tasty loot, just lying around unattended! How careless.

...though the only actually useful item therein is a Potion of Restore Mana. Bah! What good are cheesy tactics if you aren't rewarded for using them?

A nasty trick: the next level started us off next to a Death Mold. They never sleep! We have to take a step back before casting Door Creation.

It, and several levels after it, are disappointingly empty. We're going through those Potions of Enlightenment awfully quickly. We pick up a few consumables and some by-now pointless stat gains...and then on another seemingly-boring level we stumble across a Ring of Speed <+15>.

A free +3 speed over our old ring! Sweet! +15 is pretty obscenely big as Rings of Speed go. Their formula is something like 4 + a depth-dependent bonus (which is probably around another +4 for us) plus a "supercharge". The supercharge basically flips a coin, and as long as the coin doesn't come up tails, it adds +1 to the bonus. So to get to +15 we'd have to pass something like 7-8 flips in a row. People have posted characters with +22 rings and the like, but the biggest I've ever found is +16.

Finally, we find an interesting level, containing not just two Graveyards:

but also another Interstices vault:

Amusingly, there are four copies of Resistances of Scarabtarices on this level.

We head over to the southeastern Graveyard and Mass Banish it (naturally, there's no worthwhile loot):

And, well, that's Kronos, Lord of the Titans there, and we really don't want to fight him. Lots of nasty spells, obscenely punishing melee, 7000 HP, the whole bit.

There is a searing blast of light!

We're good at solving problems.

The other Graveyard has a Potion of *Enlightenment* in it, which we might as well save for the moment. As for that vault...

That's a lot of dragons! Fine, fine, dragons are worth disproportionate amounts of experience. Baphomet the Minotaur Lord is the purple H in the northeastern section; by now we really ought to be able to kill him. His main claims to fame are +20 speed and punishing melee, but of course we don't get into melee if we can possibly avoid it.

(He says, as he makes Bryson II melee an ordinary Minotaur to death, taking nary a scratch in return)

Time to lure Baphomet out. Eat Stinking Cloud!

Annoyingly, he keeps getting hung up on weakass monsters (seriously, why can't he push past weaker monsters?), which we have to get close to to wake up, so we don't have the kind of spacing we'd really prefer to have:

However, Rift bounces him around nicely, so the fight goes smoothly despite the initial hangups. We almost run out of mana, but the key word there is "almost", and also "we have regeneration now, who cares".

Back in the vault...

You miss the Colossus. You dissolve the Colossus (46). You miss the Colossus. You dissolve the Colossus (40). The Colossus misses you. The Colossus misses you. The Colossus misses you. The Colossus misses you.

...we chop down 2640 HP worth of gigantic golem without getting hit once

The entire eastern section of the vault doesn't put up much resistance, although to be fair we do teleport away a Great Wyrm of Balance, mostly because I don't feel like dealing with the potential dragonsplosion. Also, we finally find another randart!


For some reason, I decide it's a good idea to fight a Great Wyrm of Law. It quickly teaches me that I'm very much in the wrong.

The Great Wyrm of Law breathes shards. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***

190 HP out of 809. Yikes. They can hit the damage cap on shards breath, just like Huan can, and that's 500 damage in a single shot. Let's...just teleport this guy away instead, hey? And then shotgun Cure Critical Wounds potions until we feel safe enough to rest.

The western half of the vault otherwise goes smoothly; we banish Quylthulgs and, hell, ancient dragons while we're at it since there's a Dracolich and another Great Wyrm of Law present. Nothing else can put up a fight. We also find another crappy big sword randart:

I guess it's not that bad, really; I'm just biased against weapons that don't have Slay Evil.

And that about does it for that vault! We bop back to town, drop off some items, and find another Potion of Augmentation in the Black Market -- a steal at 150k AU. It maxes out our CON! We're now at a CON of 18/240, well above what we actually need. Alas, it's not quite enough for us to be able to swap out our weapon, which is giving us +5 CON and basically nothing else. A shame; we have a scimitar with resistance to shards on it.

I'm going to call it here. But before we close, a quick retrospective on our attack spells, along with their average damage-to-mana ratios.

With any luck, the next update will be the last one before we head after Sauron and Morgoth. All we have left to do is gain a level or two and maybe find some more Wands of Annihilation, really. How hard could it be?