The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 40: Mage Duel

Update 40: Mage Duel

Last time, Bryson II had a glorious time demonstrating how mages can run roughshod over the late game.

Today, it is time to stop faffing about. Let's go kill ourselves a demigod.

Our first stop is back home, to do some inventory shuffling.

Sauron is immune to all elements except acid, so our Wands of Dragons Flame/Frost get retired. They've served us well. Honestly our Wands of Acid Balls are done too; while they do good damage (210 damage per shot), we can do better with spells now, and mana costs are officially Not An Issue. We have 20 Potions of Restore Mana, plus two Staves of the Magi. That's plenty for these two fights.

Here's our loadout for Sauron:

We'll be relying on Chaos Strike and Mana Storm for the most part; their average damage per turn are 325 and 330, respectively (Mana Storm takes a hit due to its nonzero failure rate). We're saving the Wands of Annihilation (average 377/turn, taking the wand's failure rate into account) for Morgoth.

The Scrolls of *Destruction* are for dire emergencies. I don't expect we'll need them, but you win by being prepared, not by being confident.

Right, let's get down there. We recall to 4850' and start making ourselves some stairs.

At 4900' there's a Crown vault:

But we've cleared plenty of vaults. We chug an Enlightenment potion, just to verify there aren't any un-ID'd rings (which could be Rings of Power); there aren't.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 4950')

And there he is.

Flavor text:

He is Morgoth's most powerful servant. Mighty in spells and enchantments, he created the One Ring. His eyes glow with power and his gaze seeks to destroy your soul. He has many servants, and rarely fights without them.

Let's just run down that spell list: Blind, Brain Smash, Cause Mortal Wounds, Frighten, Teleport [you off the] Level, Teleport Self, Darkness Storm, Fire Ball, Mana Storm, Nether Storm, Whirlpool, Ice Bolt, Mana Bolt, Plasma Bolt, Summon Greater Demons, Summon Ancient Dragons, Summon Greater Undead, Summon Monsters, Summon Uniques, Summon Ringwraiths.

Teleport Level can be saved against, thankfully. It'd be a real dick move to get him down to 90% dead only to have to start the fight over.

Sauron has 10500 HP and moves at +20 speed; meanwhile we're at +35, so we should get fairly regular double-turns. Freude fought him in melee range, but we'll be staying away from him, or at least that's the plan for now.

Here we go!

Sauron, the Sorcerer shrugs off the attack. Sauron, the Sorcerer invokes a storm of raw magic. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***

...that was the first turn. He just took us down to 285 HP! 553 unresistable damage, just like that!

Thankfully, we can just chug Healing potions to recover; the first one takes us out of instadeath range and the second gets us our buffer back, a bit.

Every 3 Chaos Strikes takes off 10% of his health, which is a pretty good rate. We land 9 of them before Sauron does anything but move towards us.

Sauron, the Sorcerer shrugs off the attack. Sauron, the Sorcerer summons some friends.

I don't think I can make too much fun of Sauron's choice in friends: he got a Nightwalker, a Nightcrawler, a Chaos Drake, a Vampire, and...a Giant Clear Centipede. Oh well, they can't all be winners.

We can't risk the Nightwalker or Nightcrawler casting anything, so they need to be banished. We could just banish wraiths, but we may as well cast Mass Banishment and clear the path to resume Chaos Strikes.

Mass Banishment and Chaos Strikes use up our mana pretty quickly. When we get down to 78, it's time to restore some; we can't risk being surprised without the resources to cast spells.

Sauron, the Sorcerer grunts with pain. Sauron, the Sorcerer summons ringwraiths.

Well, we killed off Feagwath, but that still leaves Vecna around to cause trouble. Oh well, he just gets teleported away. That should do it for unique undead. We banish Ws to get rid of the Black Wraith.

Sauron, the Sorcerer commands you to go far away. You avoid the effects!

Phew. No teleporting us off the level, buddy!

He's getting a bit close, so we hit him with a few Rifts until he gets knocked away again. More summons get Mass Banished as they have no unique monsters in them, but that only lasts so long:

Sauron, the Sorcerer grunts with pain. Sauron, the Sorcerer summons his servants.

Yikes. We got Ungoliant, the Unlight, Omarax, the Eye Tyrant, and...Golfimbul the Hill Orc Chief

Ungoliant and Sauron are a nasty, nasty combination. For that matter, Omarax is pretty nasty too. We throw up some doors to buy time...and then discover something amusing:

Omarax can't push past weaker monsters! Neither can Ungoliant! They're both stuck behind a hill orc whose most notable achievement is getting his head whacked off by Bullroarer the Hobbit! Meanwhile, Golfimbul has zero interest in moving closer to us; we outlevel him so badly that he's automatically afraid of us.

Well, that buys us a few turns to beat on Sauron some more.

And then stubbornness gets us in trouble.

Once again we relied on Rift to keep us out of melee range, and once again, it failed us. And then Sauron summoned monsters, most importantly pulling an Ethereal Dragon.

At this point we basically have to teleport Sauron away. The summons aren't an immediate concern; the problem is that we only have 580 HP, and Sauron's Mana Storm can potentially punch for 595. We can't deal with both him and the summons in the same turn either. Alas, as Sauron was almost dead. We'll just have to hope we find him again soon; he heals fast.

Sauron, the Sorcerer disappears!

And then the summons get Mass Banished. Sloppy play on my part. It won't happen again.

Fortunately, Sauron doesn't go far.

Unfortunately, by the time he makes it back to us, he's healed 10% of his health.

Sauron, the Sorcerer grunts with pain. Sauron, the Sorcerer summons some friends.
Sauron, the Sorcerer cries out in pain. Sauron, the Sorcerer summons ancient dragons.
Sauron, the Sorcerer screams in agony.
A magical staircase appears... Sauron, the Sorcerer dies.

Phew. There. We've just obviated the entirety of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but never mind! We have one hell of a bigger fish to fry.

First things first: this time, unlike with Freude, we're returning to town to get all of our supplies!

I think we have enough *Healing* potions. In fact, let's just ditch the Cure Light Wounds; they won't get used.

Back into the dungeon, and one Stair Creation later...

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 5000')

No sign of Morgoth just yet, but there's a Graveyard we'd better deal with, as its occupants are already spilling out.

A bit of Stone to Mud to get closer, and one Mass Banishment later, the problem is solved. Our map shows some walls mysteriously disappearing to the northwest -- that's Morgoth on the march (remember, once we learn the terrain in a tile, it stays learned, so we get updated if it changes even though we can't see it happen). We hightail it to the northeast corner...

There is a searing blast of light!

...and blow it up.

That new corridor to our west is Morgoth, en route.

There he is!

You see Morgoth, Lord of Darkness.

He is the Master of the Pits of Angband. His figure is like a black mountain crowned with lightning. He rages with everlasting anger, his body scarred by Fingolfin's eight mighty wounds. He can never rest from his pain, but seeks forever to dominate all that is light and good in the world. He is the origin of man's fear of darkness and created many foul creatures with his evil powers. Orcs, Dragons, and Trolls are his most foul corruptions, causing much pain and suffering in the world to please him. His disgusting visage, twisted with evil, is crowned with iron, the two remaining Silmarils forever burning him. Grond, the mighty Hammer of the Underworld, cries defiance as he strides towards you to crush you to a pulp!

I have to give Morgoth credit. He has completely subverted this fight with his very first combat action.

Morgoth, Lord of Darkness laughs off the attack. Morgoth, Lord of Darkness summons some friends.

Morgoth's friends: a Storm of Unmagic, an Ancient Red Dragon, a Vrock, a Minotaur, a Water Troll, a Ninja, and...a White Icky Thing

...I just...what? What.


Get out of here, guys.

Morgoth, Lord of Darkness laughs off the attack. Morgoth, Lord of Darkness invokes a storm of raw magic. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***

Ow. There goes 570 HP. I guess we'd better drink one of our twenty-three *Healing* potions. Or maybe one of our eight Life potions!

We unload our Wands of Annihilation into him. They clearly hurt; he's down 20% of his health already. He summons Ancient Dragons, and we banish them; he follows up by summoning Greater Undead, but again we can just banish them as he doesn't pull any uniques. Perhaps Vecna is elsewhere on the level? Summoning spells can't create unique monsters if they're already on the level.

Morgoth, Lord of Darkness summons his servants.

Well, no. That answers that question. We have Vecna, the Emperor Lich, and Gorlim, Betrayer of Barahir, who we really ought to have found and killed earlier. Oh well. Gorlim is one of those surprisingly-deadly uniques, as you may remember; he could cast Mana Bolt and Water Bolt for nearly 200 damage at a time when we only had around 130 HP. On his own he's no longer a threat, but we can't have him sticking around either.

With us at full health, I'm fairly confident that Gorlim and Morgoth can't work together to kill us in a single round, so we simply teleport Vecna away. Now he definitely can't be summoned again. Fortunately the remaining duo don't do anything except move, so next turn Gorlim gets teleported too.

We're out of Annihilation charges, Morgoth's getting close, and we're near the wrong edge of the Destructed zone. Morgoth, what say we take a quick breather?

Morgoth, Lord of Darkness disappears!

Good man. He's back soon enough, of course, but it buys us time to reposition and recharge.

We do a few more passes, and

Morgoth, Lord of Darkness summons his servants.

Okay, I'm calling bullshit. Huan, Wolfhound of the Valar is not Morgoth's servant!

More seriously, this is a really bad situation. Morgoth, Huan, and the Tarrasque are all capable of taking off more than half our health in a single shot, and we can't banish them because they're all uniques. The truly safe action here would be to cast Word of Destruction, but that would mean starting the fight with Morgoth over. Phase Door is probably safe...but if it just sent us a few spaces to the west, then we'd still be in LOS of the Tarrasque and Morgoth, which is a potential death sentence.

Still, I don't see any better options. I really don't want to cast Word of Destruction, just as a matter of pride. So, here goes...

Phew. First thing we do, now, is teleport Morgoth away again; then we track down the Tarrasque and Huan individually and teleport them as well. They won't be returning to bother us again!

The next pass of the fight is, well...

Morgoth, Lord of Darkness laughs off the attack. Morgoth, Lord of Darkness invokes a storm of raw magic. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***
You feel very good. You have 21 Black Potions of *Healing*.
Morgoth, Lord of Darkness summons ringwraiths.

Morgoth, Lord of Darkness invokes a storm of raw magic. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***
You feel very good. You have 20 Black Potions of *Healing*.
Morgoth, Lord of Darkness invokes a storm of raw magic. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***
You feel very good. You have 19 Black Potions of *Healing*.
Morgoth, Lord of Darkness casts a bolt of raw magic.

I thought our healing resources were hilarious, I'm not so certain.

You feel very good. You have 9 Dark Red Potions of Healing. Morgoth, Lord of Darkness summons his servants.

Omarax, the Eye Tyrant, Radagast the Brown (bullllshiiiiit), Ungoliant, the Unlight, and...Golfimbul, the Hill Orc Chief

At least this time, they're far enough away that we can throw up some doors before ducking around some more serious cover.

Morgoth, Lord of Darkness disappears!
Radagast the Brown disappears!
Ungoliant, the Unlight disappears!
Omarax, the Eye Tyrant disappears!

Golfimbul, you can stay. Witness the death of your god! Y'know, unless you get caught in the crossfire. Which seems unlikely, since you're running for the hills. Smart orc.

You have 1 charge remaining. Morgoth, Lord of Darkness sneers.

He's changed his damage text! He's halfway dead!

We have to burn through a lot of mana casting Mass Banishment over and over again, as Morgoth summons greater undead and demons with shocking frequency. Well, at least we have the ability to cast Mass Banishment with shocking frequency. Other classes would have a lot more trouble with Morgoth's decisions this time around. Freude had things easy by comparison!

You have 0 charges remaining. Morgoth, Lord of Darkness sneers.

He's down to 30% health! The end is in sight!

We switch to Mana Storm, since we aren't really getting the opportunities we need to recharge our wands, and Chaos Strike just doesn't seem appropriate any more.

10% left!

Morgoth, Lord of Darkness sneers.
Morgoth, Lord of Darkness scowls.
You failed to concentrate hard enough!
Morgoth, Lord of Darkness screams in fury. Morgoth, Lord of Darkness invokes a storm of raw magic. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***
You feel life flow through your body! You feel very good. You have 7 Silver Speckled Potions of Life. Morgoth, Lord of Darkness invokes a storm of raw magic. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***
You feel life flow through your body! You feel very good. You have 6 Silver Speckled Potions of Life. Morgoth, Lord of Darkness invokes a storm of raw magic. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! ***
You feel life flow through your body! You feel very good. You have 5 Silver Speckled Potions of Life.

Say goodnight, Gracie.

You feel something roll beneath your feet. A magical staircase appears... *** CONGRATULATIONS *** You have won the game! You may retire (commit suicide) when you are ready. Morgoth, Lord of Darkness dies.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you kill a demigod. In the face, from point-blank range, with raw magical power.

Hey, Golfimbul, how do you feel about working for a new tyrranical overlord? I can promise you won't get summoned onto any battlefields. At least, not until I figure out how to cast summoning magic...

Do you want to retire [y/n] Y

The gold (AU) display seems to be bugged; we only have about 500k AU, not over 10 million.

The turn count is also bugged, alas.

I've uploaded a complete dump of Bryson II's file here, if you want to see what all of her equipment did. Additionally, one fun thing you can do with randart games is dump a spoiler file of all of the randarts in the game, so you can see all the fun items that you could potentially have found, had you not died. That's up here. It also shows you which standard artifact each randart was based on, though the accented names seem to have gotten corrupted somehow.

In retrospect, Bryson II got exceedingly lucky. She found several nice drops in the early game that greatly smoothed out what is by far the most dangerous part of a mage's life -- that period when they have not only no hitpoints, but also no way to fight effectively. Early speed and telepathy made a huge difference.

Sure, we had issues with finding new combat spells; Raal's Tome of Destruction showed up hilariously late. But we were able to compensate by leaning heavily on wands and using Teleport Other for monsters we couldn't kill. And sure, we had trouble finding Potions of Constitution...but on the flipside we also had a completely ridiculous amount of +CON gear to compensate.

Realistically, we could have probably won the game as soon as we found Kelek's Grimoire of Power, since that's when we finally got access to really big damage spells. Hell, we could probably have won the game with just Meteor Swarm and Rift, but that would have meant dealing damage about half as quickly, which means we'd have needed twice as many healing items. Of course, hanging around to grind out 4-5 levels once we found Kelek's meant we had several times more consumables than we needed. But that made the last two fights rather low-stress.

If you feel like playing a mage, I cannot stress enough that you need to know what monsters can do. Seriously, either turn on the cheat to know monster memory automatically, or learn to read the "monster.txt" resource file -- and learn the damage formulae that determine how much damage each spell can do. There were plenty of situations in this game where spending a single turn around a certain monster or combination of monsters could have meant 10-50% odds of instant death, and you can't afford to take that kind of chance.

Next time: let's give this one more try!