The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 49: Running Scared

Update 49: Running Scared

Last time, things went horribly wrong, and then we spent the rest of the update digging ourselves out of a hole. Let's carry on.

I'm pretty sure this formation is one of the special item rooms (like the potion rooms, ammo dumps, etc.). It's just too regularly-shaped to be anything else.

Sure enough, it's a library! We pick up another copy each of books 3 and 4 -- and still have only 1 copy of the first book. Hm.

The Greater Basilisk that we teleported away earlier is back on our trail, as is the Demonologist who was in the vault but teleported himself away as soon as he saw us. Of the two the basilisk is by far the larger threat -- fast and able to breathe both poison and nexus. Fortunately we resist both, and have enough HP to survive even if he double-breathes poison on us. Also fortunately, basilisks are evil.

As soon as he breaks down the door, we'll be able to start pounding him.

...there must be something non-evil and stationary in the corridor that he can't get past. A mold, say. Crumbs. We can't clear the obstruction without giving the basilisk free breath attacks on us; we'll just have to approach from a different direction. Oh well.

Aw, crap, another Ranger Chieftan! We blink away a couple of times, and end up here:

Well, I guess that Basilisk is inbound -- he's in the corridor to our northeast. Better clear the Demonologist first. As their name implies, Demonologists can summon demons; they can also cast Paralyze, Teleport Self, and Fire Bolt, though, so the odds of them pulling the summoning spells out is somewhat low. Plus they die quickly to Orb.

Here comes the basilisk!

Something fiddles with a lock. <3x>
You hear a door burst open!

The Greater basilisk is hit hard.
The Greater basilisk is hit hard.
The Greater basilisk is hit hard. The Greater basilisk bites you. The Greater basilisk bites you.

They also have paralyzing gaze attacks, but there's no message for when those "miss" you. Their melee isn't especially pleasant -- 2x 3d12 gaze and 2x 2d12 poison bite -- but given our surroundings I'm a bit leery of casting Blink again. We just sit here and tank the attacks while Orbing him.

He manages to do about 170 damage to us (out of 274 HP) before we make him flee, but he never does use his breath weapons. Oh well; an easy 13k EXP for us!

This won't be so easy. A Death Knight, an Ancient Black Dragon, a Shadow (the ghost), a Werewolf, and an Imp. The main thing is to avoid waking the dragon while we deal with the Death Knight, whose Nether Bolt spell can really hurt.

The Shadow touches you. You feel your life draining away! The Shadow touches you. You feel your life draining away! The Shadow claws you. You feel very stupid for a moment, but the feeling passes. The Shadow claws you. You feel very naive for a moment, but the feeling passes.

...and to watch out for the Shadow. We just lost 16k EXP. Bah. And the Shadow's standing in a wall, which means that Orb can't hit it. We take a step back, and fortunately the Shadow only gets 1 turn which it spends moving next to us. It's at +10 speed and we're only at +3, which means most of the time it gets two turns to our one; we got lucky this time.

The Shadow is destroyed.

Most ghost-type monsters are glass cannons; Shadows only have 105 HP on average, and Orb does 2 * (51 + 3d6) damage right now against evil monsters.

We back up to rest up a bit, and it turns out the Death Knight is awake.

The Death knight is hit hard. The Death knight hits you. The Death knight hits you. The Death knight misses you.

Unlike the Greater Basilisk, Death Knights have dangerous melee: a 6d6 hit and two 5d5 hits. Plus their attack spells don't get weaker as they get hurt, the way breath weapons do. So we need to keep our distance. Cue Blink.

Unfortunately, Death Knights don't give off light, so we can't see when he enters the room. If we light the room, we risk waking the dragon, and if we blindly fire to our west then I'm pretty sure we'll hit the dragon. Not a good arena for combat!

Something tries to cast a spell, but fails.

Backed into this corner, we can at least blindly fire at the center of the right half of the room.

It grunts with pain.

Splash damage on Orb isn't all that great, but it's better than nothing. And soon enough the Death Knight is back in range. This time we whack him with 4 Orbs while he mostly spends his turns casting pointless spells, and he dies after only hitting us for about 70 damage in melee.

We flee back to the corridor, rest up, and then return for the dragon.

You are surrounded by a white light. The Ancient black dragon wakes up. The Imp wakes up.

(The far corner of the room is far enough away that we can't see it even though the room's lit up)

The Ancient black dragon is hit hard. <4x>
The Ancient black dragon conjures up scary horrors. You are terrified!

Hey, anything that slows you down from reaching melee range, buddy.

The Ancient black dragon is hit hard. <3x>
The Ancient black dragon flees in terror!
The Ancient black dragon dies.

An easy 3k EXP, though we're still 11k EXP below where we should be. Stupid experience drain...

Heading back to the east, we discover that the monster that previously blocked the Greater Basilisk was a mere Silver Jelly. Then we get accosted by a hydra:

11 heads this time.

You feel resistant to fire! You feel resistant to cold! The 11-headed hydra breathes fire. One of your Scrolls titled "veter exor" of Phase Door was destroyed!

Blink away from melee, and

The 11-headed hydra casts a bolt of plasma. You have been stunned.

Shoot 'n Scoot eventually does for this hydra, but he manages to blow up several of our scrolls, and repeated castings of Plasma Bolt make us chew through several Cure Critical Wounds potions. 11-Headed Hydras are the strongest of the lot (aside from the Lernaean Hydra of course), and I am going to be so glad when we get away from their native depth. We're at 2300', they're native to 2200'; as we get deeper they should stop showing up so often.

So hey, there's a Ranger Chieftan in this room:

We could probably keep his summons under control via an anti-summoning corridor; the only trick is surviving his melee. But we can cast Glyph of Warding now...albeit at a 45% failure rate.

Yeah, this looks good.

You tunnel into the granite wall. <18x>
You have finished the tunnel. The Ranger Chieftan hits you. The Ranger Chieftan misses you. The Ranger Chieftan misses you.

Ha! Try and hit us now!

The Ranger Chieftan grunts with pain. The rune of protection is broken! The Ranger Chieftan hits you. The Ranger Chieftan hits you. The Ranger Chieftan hits you.

Dammit We back up, and again he breaks the rune on his first attempt. What the hell! As far as I'm aware, the chance of a rune breaking depends solely on the level of the monster (i.e. low-level characters create the same "strength" of rune as high-level ones do), so this asshole is just getting really lucky compared to how well Rune worked when used by Bryson II.

Fortunately, our third rune (which I really didn't expect to need) lasts a fair bit longer, and actually only gets broken by a Killer Iridescent Beetle that the ranger summoned before casting Phase Door. By that time, though, he's down to 30% health remaining; we simply tank his attacks while casting Heal from time to time and Orb him down.

He drops 2 Potions of Intelligence, some Cure Critical Wounds potions, a copy of prayer book #2, a Wand of Teleport Other, a chest, and a couple of weapons. Who knows how much of that was his normal drop and how much of it was loot he grabbed off the ground.

The greatest injustice about this guy is that killing him is only worth about 2k EXP. He's one of the most dangerous non-unique p-type monsters in the game (behind only Knights Templar, Master Mystics, and Grand Master Mystics). Hell, Berserkers are worth more experience to kill, and they have no spells!

We explore a bit more, find a Demonologist, nuke him, and gratefully liberate a copy of prayer book #1 from his cold pale hands. Hooray, a backup copy of our basic detection spells!

We get into a fight with a Vampire Lord, and apparently I forgot my prior advice to stay the fuck away from these guys.

The Vampire lord casts a bolt of nether. You feel your life force draining away! The Vampire lord smashes you with psionic energy. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! *** You feel yourself moving slower! You resist the effect! You are confused! You resist the effect!


76/274 HP, and we're at -7 speed and confused. This would be why we carry Potions of Healing despite being able to cast the spell ourselves. Of course, that still leaves us in danger of a triple-turn by the Vampire Lord.

You are confused. You feel very good. You are no longer confused. You have no more Black Potions of Healing. The Vampire lord hits you. The Vampire lord hits you. The Vampire lord bites you. You feel your life draining away! The Vampire lord bites you. You feel your life draining away! The Vampire lord misses you. Tthe Vampire lord hits you. The Vampire lord misses you. The Vampire lord misses you. The Vampire lord sets off a blinding flash. You avoid the effects! The Vampire lord conjures up scary horrors. You are terrified!

...what the hell, a quadruple turn? And thanks to the effect that fear has on our spell failure rates, Teleport Other is now at a 25% failure. I knew I should have kept that Wand of Teleport Other the Ranger Chieftan dropped.

Portal is still at 2% failure rate. I don't like teleporting this deep in the dungeon, but we're much more likely to land someplace inoffensive than we are to successfully teleport away the Vampire Lord.

Phew, right. He's in the bottom-left corner of this shot.

I hate hate hate hate hate Brain Smash. Giving it to monsters that are already fast is just unfair. Also, how the hell was he hitting us so much? Our AC is only 106, granted, but that isn't that bad for this depth.

In any event, there seems little point in continuing to explore this level; we've hit most of it and what's left requires dealing with the Vampire Lord. Incidentally? They're only worth about 2k EXP per kill. Ludicrously undervalued.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2350')

We enter in a dark room, with an insect next to us. I unwisely spend our first turn casting Call Light instead of checking what kind of insect it was...

You are surrounded by a white light. Akhorahil the Blind wakes up. The Neekerbreeker makes a high-pitched shriek. You hear a sudden stirring in the distance! Akhorahil the Blind starts moving faster. The Baby black dragon starts moving faster.

Man, the game is out to get us these days! Neekerbreekers are colossal assholes -- fast breeders that can shriek for help. We sure aren't going to try to fight Akhorahil while he's at +20 speed. Fortunately that bonus will wear off in a bit.

Akhorahil the Blind disappears!
The Neekerbreeker dies.
The Baby black dragon dies.

Fun fact: Neekerbreekers are evil, and have about 5HP. So we overkilled this one by about 2000%. Not nearly enough.

Akhorahil hasn't gone far, but there's a pile of rubble keeping him from reaching our room. That's the good news. The bad news is that we can't really afford to fight him without speed parity, and we only have two Potions of Speed left. We haven't seen any in ages! The problem here is that they have a flat allocation rate across the entire game, but as you get deeper in the dungeon, more and more items become eligible for being dropped, so the percentage of items that are Potions of Speed declines dramatically. That, and we've been unlucky.

On the plus side, Staves of Speed are in-depth now. Not that they're any more common than Potions of Speed.

Anyway, Akhorahil's spell list is Blind, Cause Critical Wounds, Create Darkness, Paralyze, Frighten, Frost Bolt, Fire Bolt, Nether Bolt, and Summon Monsters. As long as he doesn't cast that last one, we're golden; unfortunately, he casts frequently.

...y'know, I think we'll pass on this fight now. Our situation is just too precarious to risk on fighting a ringwraith, given our lack of consumables, speed, and stats.

We'll just wait for him to enter LOS, and

Akhorahil the Blind disappears!

I'm sure he'll be back; we'll have to keep an eye out.

Yep, there he is. This time he can't reach us so easily. Good.

We beat down the Patriarch to our east, and he drops a Staff of Identify with 7 charges on it! Excellent news; that nearly doubled our stock of Identify.

On the minus side,

Goddamn Ranger Chieftans they're like locusts! Or particularly virulent strains of the common cold!

The Ranger Chieftan disappears!

Love to smash your face in, buddy, but only in a more favorable battleground.

That's a Great Crystal Drake in the northeast; lacking shards resistance, we can't afford to fight it as it could easily one-shot us. Also, as soon as we head east, Akhorahil will be able to reach us again.

We're starting to have some major problems, as you may have noticed. +3 speed really isn't enough to fight most of the in-depth monsters around here; our 274 HP is also too little. We need CON potions and speed; we also really want more WIS bonuses on our gear to get our spell failure rates down.

We cast Detect Evil every turn so we know when Akhorahil has rounded the corner.

Akhorahil the Blind disappears!

...and I just realized now that we've been wielding our Whip instead of our Blessed Glaive all this time, costing us significantly in spell failure rates (Teleport Other was at 5% when it should have been at 1%).

Some Black Puddings assault us; we blink away, and land right next to the wraiths we detected earlier

The White wraith hits you. The White wraith hits you. The White wraith touches you. You feel your life draining away! The White wraith hits you. The White wraith misses you. The White wraith misses you.

We are making negative progress on the experience front here. This is so not okay. Blink away...

And blindfire Orb at the southeast corner.

You hear a scream of agony! It grunts with pain. It cries out feebly. You hear a scream of agony!

Fortunately Orb does in wraiths nearly as well as it does in ghosts. Unfortunately, this asshole is back:

The Ranger Chieftan disappears!

We evidently cannot have a moment's peace, despite our "Excellent" stealth rating.

We lure the Black Puddings to this room a few at a time, and Orb them down. They manage to get some hits in, reducing our AC to 99, but fortunately they don't destroy any consumables. The only loot is a Potion of Intelligence though.

Remember when I said Berserkers were worth more experience than Ranger Chieftans? Yeah, this guy's worth 3300 EXP, and the only problem with fighting him is that the repeated Blink castings eventually land us in the room with the Great Crystal Drake, necessitating a casting of Portal.

Oh, and Berserkers aren't evil, so there's that. I'm getting tired of how many monsters there are that we can't detect and can't kill efficiently.

Berserkers may be easier to deal with than Ranger Chieftans, but that doesn't make them easy. They have 1300 HP, move quickly, and naturally deal a lot of damage in melee (3x 6d6 melee attacks). Also, they do have spells -- Haste Self and Frighten. Still, we eventually Orb him down.

In contrast, Mariliths are evil, have weaker melee, can only cast Blind and Summon Demon, and are worth three times as much EXP. I don't understand this game sometimes.

A bit later we find this on the floor:

Compared to our previous Cloak of the Magi, we lose a point each of speed and stealth, but gain protection from confusion. That's a worthwhile trade.

A bit later, we nuke a Young Multihued Dragon, and it drops some Dwarven Chainmail for us:

It also gives Free Action, and presumably some AC bonus. Losing the firebreath from our Dragon Scale Mail is no longer really a big deal; we haven't been using it lately anyway. More importantly, with this our HP reaches 291, and we get a second source of Free Action, which will be handy if/when we find some Boots of Speed. The extra armor weight costs us 4 SP, though.

We're about done with this level, let's just head to the stairs--

Oh hey, Quaker, Master of Earth, one of the four unique elementals. 2800 HP, he's not fast, and his only spells are Acid Bolt and Acid Ball. Plus like all the elemental uniques he can destroy items when he walks on them.

...on the other hand, it'd take about 50 Orbs to kill him. Yeah, let's just let this guy slumber peacefully for now.

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2400')

Now this is what I like to see! No uniques, just some easily-killed dragons and some items to check out! On the subject of grave injustices: that Mature Multihued Dragon, which we killed trivially, was worth more experience than a Ranger Chieftan. And you can't even use the excuse that multihued dragons are harder to kill for other classes, since both monsters resist all elements!

We rip through the local enemies easily, and then come to a screeching halt:

That yellow G is a Dreadmaster. Shit. He's a wallwalker, so teleporting him away won't accomplish much; he's also fast and his Cause Mortal Wounds spell can hit for upwards of 225 HP (i.e. way more than half our total). A double-cast from him could easily kill us. Bleh.

Well, there's a staircase right there. I don't really like fleeing the level, but when there's a ghost that could basically show up at any time and completely wreck us, it's not like we have much of a choice!

You enter a maze of down staircases. (to 2450')

Better. With the trolls to the east is a Ring of Constitution <+3>, which we wear instead of our old Strength ring. Our STR score is plenty high right now, but we really need more HP; this bumps us up to 317.

Oh, goddammit. Another Dreadmaster to the southeast. At least this time he isn't between us and the rest of the level. If we just flee westward, we should be able to avoid waking him up.

Man. We are just having no luck today! In that room (which is another special item room of some kind) is Kavlax the Many-Headed.

Well, y'know what? We are fighting him. I don't care if it's a bad idea; I'm sick of fleeing from monsters that can kill us with a blink. And besides, he can't kill us with a single attack, so as long as he avoids Gravity (and its associated slow/stun combo), we should be okay. Naturally though we'll have to use a Potion of Speed.

Scrolls, great. There's a Scroll of Recharging and a Scroll of Banishment here; Banishment at least can save us from Dreadmasters, so it will be helpful...after we deal with Kavlax.

You feel yourself moving faster! You have a Vermilion Potion of Speed.
You feel resistant to fire! You feel resistant to cold!
You are surrounded by a white light.

Wakey wakey, Kavlax!

It grunts with pain.

On the plus side, as we damage Kavlax, his attacks will get weaker, since they're all breath weapons.

Kavlax the Many-Headed is hit hard. Kavlax the Many-Headed breathes gravity. Gravity warps around you. *** LOW HITPOINT WARNING! *** You've been stunned. You feel yourself moving slower!

The odds of that happening were about 1 in 27, a.k.a. a statistical certainty since it's exactly what we wanted to not happen. Also note how the gravity effect completely failed to move us; how bizarre.

We read a Scroll of Phase Door (since Blink's failure rate is 16% when stunned); it takes us here:

Not at all a good position, but we should have at least one turn to recover.

You feel very good. You are no longer stunned.

Heal clears stunning; a pity it doesn't clear the temporary slowing effect. On our next turn, we take a step to the west, forcing Kavlax to spend his turn moving (otherwise he could have spent it on a breath weapon):

Then we Blink away again and the slowing runs out, restoring us to +12 speed since our Potion of Speed is still in effect. Gravity's slow effect doesn't last very long (though its duration stacks, so beware Gravity Hounds). Unfortunately the timer on that Potion of Speed has gotten a lot shorter.

We stand in melee range and just pound Kavlax with Orbs. His melee isn't much to speak of, and I don't want to waste our precious hasted turns. Pretty soon he's 80% dead, while we still have almost 50% of our own HP left.

Kavlax the Many-Headed is hit hard. Kavlax the Many-Headed flees in terror! You are no longer resistant to fire.

We retreat to a corner, cast Heal, and wait.

You are no longer resistant to cold.
You feel yourself slow down.

You feel something roll beneath your feet. Kavlax the Many-Headed dies.

There. A measily 3400 EXP, and his drop is just {magical} crap, but at least we've killed something.

The other scrolls in the room are Door/Stair Location, Blessing, Satisfy Hunger, and *Destruction*. We burn the Recharging scroll on our Wand of Dragon's Frost, and it works! 4 more charges to spend on something that doesn't ignore cold damage. Realistically we'll shatter the next hydra we see.

We get back to exploring, blast apart a family of Blue Dragons, and are rewarded with a Ring of Constitution <+4>. This replaces our old <+2> ring, and takes our HP up to 351. That's almost respectable! In fact, looking at the Dreadmaster's spell list, the only way he could kill us in one double-turn now is if he cast Cause Mortal Wounds twice in a row, rolling high both times (it does 15d15 damage, if I read the code correctly). Considering our saving throw is 86% and he has 7 other spells, the odds of him killing us outright from full health are worse than (.125 * .14) ** 2, a.k.a. .03%.

That said, I'm still not going to seek that guy out to kill him.

Dispel Evil is down to a 1% failure rate, and deals 1d102 damage. It's catharsis time.

5 Cave ogres shudder. The Cave ogre dissolves! 2 Ogres dissolve! 4 Cave ogres flee in terror!
5 Cave ogres shudder.
5 Cave ogres dissolve!

This seems like a good stopping point. Next time: we take a chance.