The Let's Play Archive


by TooMuchAbstraction

Part 54: Saints on Speed, Clerics on Crack

Update 54: Saints on Speed, Clerics on Crack

Last time, we cleared through several rather quiet levels, before stopping right in front of a real doozy of a vault. It's time to crack that sucker open.

The vault's name is "Sphere", and there are plenty of those "awesome item and potentially any monster in the game" tiles. Fortunately almost all of them are compartmentalized behind solid walls, so we should have some leeway in avoiding the really nasty ones.

We get a bit closer, and are able to detect some of the contents:

Here's the top of the monster list:

This isn't too bad! Greater Titans are a no-go because their melee just hurts too much (at least we're immune to their confusing side-effect). We probably don't want to fight any Great Wyrms either. Smaug is doable with the right terrain. Of course, there must be many nastier enemies in there; this is just what we can see from a safe distance. But so far, there's no "Agh ABORT!" triggers.

We start heading up the corridor to the vault, and

The Greater titan commands you to come hither.

Yipe. That was unexpected. We're in LOS of the vault's contents -- but fortunately, Clairvoyance is lighting everything up and it appears nothing else has escaped the vault yet.

The Greater titan disappears!

As a reminder, those guys have 4 12d12 melee hits per turn, 3344 HP, and can summon monsters and cast Heal Self in addition to Teleport-To. Between Freude and Bryson II we've only ever killed one Greater Titan. Hell, we've killed Atlas, a unique titan, more times than we've killed Greater Titans.

We duck around the corner, out of side, and cast Detection again.

This time the monster list is scarier:

Carcharoth is of course unfightable; his nether breath could kill us (even if we wore our nether-resistance-providing shield). Fortunately he's in a walled-off compartment. Radagast the Brown is about the worst possible match-up with us, an ainu with 7500 HP and lots of powerful spells. But again, he's locked away, with an Undead Beholder buddy. The Greater Demonic Quylthulg is out in the open, kind of, but since he's stationary we should be able to cope.

Hoarmurath of Dir and Smaug the Golden are sharing a cell; we probably can't open that without risking instant death, on the off-chance that they both use powerful attacks on the same turn. Maybe if we find a Wand of Stone to Mud, so that we don't have to be in LOS of them in order to break them out.

Ar-Pharazon the Golden isn't worth fighting, same as usual. Nor the Great Ice Wyrm, probably, though Great Swamp Wyrms should be killable (poison's damage cap is half that of ice, so Great Swamp Wyrms can't do more than 266 damage to us in one turn).

And there's a bunch of other guys in there that just aren't worth fighting, even if they're not likely to kill us. But this looks doable! The main thing to keep an eye on, for the moment, is the Greater Titan in the center of the vault; there's nothing but monsters and doors between him and us.

Step one: clear the immediate environs and outer moat. We fling an Orb into the foyer, waking up the Five-Headed Hydra and Water Trolls therein.

They spill out and get slaughtered in melee. Then it's time to deal with the pack of Aranea in the northern moat.

Five orbs does in the pack; the only spell they managed to hit us with was a Magic Missile. Hooray for our excessively effective saving throw!

From this vantage, we can finally detect everything in the vault.

The only new major threads are a Dreadlord and Fundin Bluecloak, both in the northwest corner (the Greater Demonic Quylthulg is to their east, if you missed it earlier). The Dreadlord we're going to have to deal with -- it can walk through (non-permanent) walls -- but teleporting it away should still be effective enough. Fundin Bluecloak has no big nukes, but he's very fast and has 5000 HP, so he's not really worth dedicating the effort to.

We retreat again to recover SP, and discover that the Bats of Gorgoroth from the room just south of the foyer have started waking up.

I'd rather they came to me anyway. This way we can melee them down without having to put up with their darkness breath.

By the time we're done with them, the Greater Titan has woken up and has a clear path to us:

Though his way appears to be barred by a Sasquatch, a Kobold Shaman, and a White Wolf. We'll want to tread carefully -- the last thing we want is for the Titan to cast Teleport To on us and pull us into the middle of the vault! We can't teleport into vaults normally, but monster spells that teleport us still work normally. Or at least, Teleport-To certainly still works normally.

So we haste up, duck into LOS for a turn, and deliver a wakeup call:

It shrugs off the attack. It grunts with pain. The Young gold dragon is hit hard. It shrugs off the attack. The White wolf howls in agony. It writhes in agony. It grunts with pain. The Kobold shaman dies. The Red worm mass is destroyed. The Greater titan picks up 5 Slime Molds.

Hm. Titans can pick up items. I forgot about that. He has some of our loot. But he can't pick up artifacts, and he didn't pick up the new prayer book, nor the two unidentified potions, so we can cope. We duck back out of LOS and wait for him to approach.

Instead we get this Great Bile Wyrm. Normally I'd be tempted to fight him, but now is really not the time.

The Great Bile Wyrm disappears!

After that, we get the Sasquatch and Young Gold Dragon before Mr. Titan finally deigns to make an appearance.

The Greater titan disappears!

We wait for our sprint cycle to reset, then head north to deal with an Istar:

Best that these A monsters never wake up before getting teleported away, honestly. Between Mana Bolt and Summon Ainu, they're bad news in angelic form.

The Maia disappears!
The Istar disappears!

Conveniently, we get a Wand of Disarming off of a Cave Troll, which we can use to crack open the foyer.

Next up: there's an Ancient Multihued Dragon in the northern part of the vault which is free to access it. I've highlighted it in this shot:

We need to clear all of the "free to roam" monsters before we start breaking down walls, to minimize the chance that we get blindsided by a monster spontaneously waking up and coming after us. So we head north, start chopping down Cave Ogres, one of them drops some boots, and I decide to waste the mana on IDing them...

Oh, thank you RNG! Speed! Blessed, blessed speed! And cold resistance! We can swap in our randart shield without leaving a gaping hole in our defenses! Oh man this makes life so much better you have no idea. We go from +2 speed to +12, trade sound resistance for nether resistance, and pick up lightning immunity and regeneration!

The best thing about this drop is that it wasn't biased by the RNG at all -- that Cave Ogre just happened to be carrying an awesome pair of boots for us.

Goodbye, Iron Shod Boots of Free Action that we found at frickin' 300'. You have served us well, but frankly you've been redundant for quite some time.

Oh, and that Ancient Multihued Dragon is awake.

We haste up (thereby exceeding the AMHD's speed by 50%) and cast Resist Heat & Cold. We're immune to lightning, take 1/9th damage from fire and cold, and 1/6th from acid (due to its armor-degrading properties). The AMHD's vaunted breath weapons are far less dangerous than his melee attacks, now. And by standing on a Glyph of Warding, we completely null his melee -- he never manages to break the glyph. A single frost breath destroys some of our potions, but we have spares.

Dangerous portion of the northern half: clear! We stop to ID some loot.

Oh, yes please! Man, we're finding immunities all over the place now. Unfortunately we can't wear this yet, as we need the poison resistance from our Amulet of Trickery, but it's definitely worth holding onto.

Mm, not bad. I don't think it's worth losing protection from blindness (from our Lantern of True Sight) for, though. Especially since its activation is the same as casting Clairvoyance.

There's also Hard Leather Armour of Elvenkind (with bonus light resistance), which would have enabled us to use our randart shield, had we not gotten our new boots instead. This way we can keep on our Dwarven armor and its associated CON boost.

Heading south, we tear through the chumpy monsters in the opposing room:

Among the loot is Armour of Resistance, a Mace (Defender), and a Crown of Lordiliness:

These can potentially spawn with telepathy, but this one got protection from confusion instead. It's still quite nice, but our current crown is much better.

Casting Identify is expensive, SP-wise, and resting up takes enough time that the vault denizens are mostly awake now.

The main thing that can reach us is a Winged Horror, way over in the opposite foyer. There's also a pack of Nether Hounds, another Ancient Multihued Dragon, and that Dreadlord. Let's deal with them sooner rather than later.

Heading back to the foyer, we encounter a Shadow Drake.

The Shadow drake breathes nether. You resist the effect!

Nether resistance is so much more useful than sound resistance

We reach the center of the vault:

These convenient little pillars break up LOS and would help ensure we didn't get piled on by multiple monster breaths, were not the monsters in LOS all non-breathers. Not that I'm complaining.

Spoke too soon; the Winged Horror is out. At least we resist his nether breath now! We spam Teleport Other in his direction until he has no chumps to hide behind.

The Giant blue ant disappears! The Winged Horror breathes nether. You resist the effect!
The Giant blue ant disappears!
The Mummified human disappears!
The Winged Horror disappears!

We get into a melee with a pack of adventurers, an Emperor Wight, and a Minotaur. Our melee strength is actually quite good now -- if all our blows land, then we nearly double the damage that Orb deals against evil targets.

In a brief time-out, we identify the last randart light source:

Still not better than a Lantern of True Sight.

We reach the opposing foyer, and the Nether Hounds come out to play.

There's a Knight Templar with them, but now we can match his speed! Ahh, +12 base speed is a glorious thing. We kill them all in melee. Incidentally, zephyr hounds (and all monsters that have the pack AI) will willingly chase you into vaults since they count as being in a room, even though there may well be zero opportunity for the monsters to surround you. It makes dealing with the Nether Hounds a lot simpler.

Killing one of the Nether Hounds gets us to level 40! 464 HP, 313 SP, and we can learn Alter Reality now! Though we certainly don't want to cast it yet, since it'd mean leaving the vault behind.

Reaching the northern "open room", it turns out that that Dreadlord is a bit flummoxed:

There's a Great Swamp Wyrm between him and us, and he can't get by. Well, that gives us a chance to deal with that Greater Demonic Quylthulg. Speaking of which, check out this wonky targeting!

We can apparently see and target the highlighted square! I don't really get how that works, but I'm not complaining.

33 Orbs later, the Dreadlord finally makes it past the Great Swamp Wyrm.

Fortunately we still have enough mana to cast Teleport Other, if only just. I should probably have stopped to rest before this point. We take a step to the west; the Dreadlord, who is "only" fast, follows, thereby pulling him out of the wall and making him vulnerable to spells...

Actually, hang on. Dreadlords can pick up items, and this one is definitely carrying some of the vault loot. They also are worth 31000 EXP, and can't do more than 200 damage to us. Their melee drains STR and EXP, but we can restore those easily. Whelp.

We down a Potion of Restore Mana, throw up a Glyph of Warding, and punt 18 Orbs into the Dreadlord without a single responding spell, let alone a melee attack. Wow. That was...trivial.

8 more Orbs do for the Greater Demonic Quylthulg, and the northern area is clear of immediate threats! The southern area is easily cleared -- the most dangerous enemy there is a Balance Drake (not a Great Wyrm of Balance, but the weaker kind). We find the first of the two un-ID'd potion types, and it turns out to be *Enlightenment*. Might as well suck it down; we're short on inventory space.

You begin to feel more enlightened... You feel very smart! You feel very wise! You sense the presence of traps! You sense the presence of doors and stairs! You sense the presence of buried treasure! You sense the presence of objects! An image of all nearby life-forms appears in your mind.

And like that, we've maxed our internal WIS score! At 18/210 after equipment bonuses, there's no change in our SP, but our failure rates probably dropped a bit.

Alas, the other un-ID'd potion we saw earlier appears to have disappeared, probably into some monster's inventory. Who knows if we'll see it again. It must be either Augmentation or Life, and I could really go for a Potion of Augmentation right now.

Now that we have some peace, it's time to sweep up the loot we can access. In addition to some consumables, we find:
Now, someone I didn't notice earlier has definitely picked up some of the loot: Harowen the Black Hand.

He's hanging out in a literally louse-infested corner of the vault, with Fundin Bluecloak and a Great Swamp Wyrm. We'll see who comes out first. But first, we ring the exit with Glyphs of Warding.

Your emissary is a Giant White Louse. Right. You guys are weird. Gives us a chance to haste up, anyway.

Fundin Bluecloak is the next out; we just teleport him away. He can't pick up items so we don't care about him. After him comes the Great Swamp Wyrm, who we would melee to death...except our hit rate is a mere 33%, so we have to settle for Orb. At least with temporary speed up we outspeed it, so even when the Glyph gets broken, we feel no real need to move.

It shrugs off the attack. It grunts with pain. The Great Swamp Wyrm dies. Harowen the Black Hand picks up a Ball-and-Chain (2d4).

Harowen's lost 20% of his health from the splash from Orb. Our main problem here is that we need to avoid letting him get melee turns against us, or he may flee. Glyphs will long as he doesn't break them. We take a step east to stand on a Glyph, and

Harowen the Black Hand picks up a Cloudy Potion of Restore Mana. The Acidic cytoplasm picks up a Dark Red Potion of *Healing*.

Oh, excellent! Harowen doesn't have all of the loot from this sector! And Acidic Cytoplasms can't teleport away either.

Harowen the Black Hand shrugs off the attack. The rune of protection is broken! Harowen the Black Hand misses you. Harowen the Black Hand misses you. Harowen the Black Hand misses you. Harowen the Black Hand misses you. Harowen the Black Hand touches you. You grab hold of your backpack! Harowen the Black Hand misses you. Harowen the Black Hand misses you. There is a puff of smoke!

And there he goes. I do wish thief monsters would only teleport away on successful theft attempts. Then again, I suppose I should be glad that he didn't steal, say, our only copy of Godly Insights.

Also, it turns out Harowen isn't evil. Hunh.

We kill off the Acidic Cytoplasm, and a Shardstorm that was also lurking in that room. Then we start resting up...and Harowen returns!

This time we fire our Bolts of Acid at him.

Your Mithril Bolt of Acid (3d5) (+6,+16) dissolves Harowen the Black Hand (306). The Mithril Bolt of Acid breaks. Harowen the Black Hand grunts with pain. Harowen the Black Hand tries to cast a spell, but fails. Harowen the Black Hand cackles evilly about traps.

He just summoned traps all around us, so we can't move for the moment. Oh well. On the plus side, he didn't move any close to us.

Our hit rate with bolts is pretty lousy, and as Harowen dances around our glyph, he picks up all the bolts we fire, which were lying on the floor.

The rune of protection is broken! Harowen the Black Hand misses you. Harowen the Black Hand misses you. Harowen the Black Hand misses you. Harowen the Black Hand misses you.

Phew. He's near to fleeing (only 30% of his health is left), but if he teleports, there's no guarantee he'll make it back to us a second time. We're out of acid bolts, so we switch in the frost bolts.

Your Mithril Bolt of Frost (3d5) (+10,+13) freezes Harowen the Black Hand (270). Harowen the Black Hand cries out in pain. Harowen the Black Hand misses you. Harowen the Black Hand touches you. One of your Dark Red Potions of *Healing* was stolen! Harowen the Black Hand misses you. Harowen the Black Hand misses you. There is a puff of smoke!

So close, and yet so far

On the other hand...

He's in the northern moat! If we leave the vault we should be able to get a bunch of unanswered shots off before he reaches melee range again.

In our haste, we try to disarm a trap (we picked up a Rod of Disarming instead of the Wand from earlier, but it's recharging), and...

You set off the strange rune! You are enveloped in a cloud of smoke! The Shimmering vortex makes a high-pitched shriek. You hear a sudden stirring in the distance! The Greater basilisk starts moving faster. The Hezrou starts moving faster. The Easterling champion starts moving faster.

Man, what the hell are the odds of that happening A summoning trap, and it pulled a Shimmering Vortex, and it got a turn before we did, and it used that turn to use its aggravate-monsters ability?

We abandon our attempt to leave the vault, and instead just back up, teleport away the Basilisk, kill the Easterling and Hezrou, lay down a Glyph, and blindfire Orbs at the Vortex. By the time Harowen returns again, we're down to 38 mana, but at least the vortex is dead.

Your Mithril Bolt of Frost (3d5) (+10,+13) freezes Harowen the Black Hand (315). The Mithril Bolt of Frost breaks. Harowen the Black Hand screams in agony. Harowen the Black Hand flees in terror!

There! Now that he's fleeing he should be a lot easier to kill. Every time he regains his courage and comes back, we can paste him with Orb, which never misses, instead of taking our chances with a Bolt landing. Three back-and-forth "return, Orb, flee" cycles later,

Harowen the Black Hand dies.

And he spews loot all over the room.

Here's what we find:
Next up is the southwest corner of the vault, which has no great foes in it:

The nastiest resident is just a Plasma Vortex! For our non-effort, we get a second copy of Purifications and Healing, a Steel Helm of Telepathy, and...

More speed! Yessssss, ha ha ha ha! It may cost us +3 CON and thus 60 HP, but it's worth it, baby! +22 base speed! And to think when we entered the level we were at +2.

Also there's this impressively brutal mace:

This is honestly an endgame-quality weapon for us. 300 damage/round is pretty amazing for a priest; we aren't exactly brawlers. And that damage has considerable room to get better as our DEX improves. Worth bringing with us, certainly.

The southeast corner of the vault is even more pathetically-guarded, with a Dark Elven Mage and a pack of Half-Trolls.

Orb slaughters them all, and...yes!

Trading the protection from confusion of our current cloak for telepathy is perhaps a bit dubious -- if we get confusion-locked by a Titan, say, then we could easily die without recourse. But telepathy is really friggin' useful. At the very least, we can wear the telepathy cloak and carry the other as a swap in case we run into confusers.

The northeast corner is thoroughly guarded by Carcharoth, an AMHD, and an Elder Aranea.

However, we can dig it open without having to stand in LOS of anyone, and we match Carcharoth's speed, so we can safely teleport him away.

Carcharoth, the Jaws of Thirst disappears!

Then we melee down everything else. It turns out the Troll Chieftan was carrying most of the items from this area, including a Gold Speckled Potion...of Experience. Oh. I forgot about those Experience is nice and all, but we really need CON.

Otherwise, this section has a Ring of Speed <+7> that we pass on (believe it or not, we now have enough speed for the endgame), and a Potion of Intelligence. Our INT is getting close to maxed, putting it almost a dozen points ahead of our CON.

The corners done, it's time to tackle the interior. Our new prayer book (you didn't forget about it, did you?) is in the south: under the Emperor Wight, six tiles south of our position. We'll go that way first.

From this position we can tunnel open the tile to our southwest without the Demonic Quylthulg seeing us; then we can Orb it down with splash damage. The miscellaneous trolls and lesser undead beyond that barely merit notice.

I can almost taste the new spells. Mmmm, musty old books...

The Emperor wight is hit hard. <x3>
The Emperor wight is destroyed.
You have a Holy Book of Prayers [Holy Infusions].

New spells!

In short, we're quite happy to replace our Scrolls of Recharging with the spell of same, and picking up Unbarring Ways is a nice bonus. But this is probably the weakest prayer book in the game.

Completing the loop we're on, we kill a Great Swamp Wyrm and hit level 41 (411 HP, 322 SP). A Vampire Lord also drops a pair of Slippers of Speed <+5>, which we would have been ecstatic to find, say, one level earlier. Finally, we're ready for Inner Sanctum #1:

The main problems here are the Great Ice Wyrm and the Lesser Titan. The titan is almost certainly carrying some of the items from the sanctum. His melee isn't as lethal as that of the Greater Titan (though it still causes confusion), and he only has 2100 HP, so we should be able to kill him. Him and the Great Ice Wyrm? Tricky.

We put on our other Cloak of the Magi first to protect us against the confusion effect, then haste up, cast Resist Heat & Cold, and break the door down.

As with the Great Swamp Wyrm from earlier, our melee is simply too inaccurate to fight this Great Ice Wyrm reliably, so we stick to Orb. He breathes frost on his first turn, killing the Fire Giant and Death Watch Beetle behind him.

The Great Ice Wyrm is hit hard. The Lesser titan is hit hard. The Great Ice Wyrm sets off a blinding flash. You avoid the effects! The Lesser titan tries to pick up a Battle Axe (2d8), but fails.

We change our target to the titan. The sooner it's dead, the better; it's a lot more unpredictable than the Great Ice Wyrm, who can only damage us.

The Lesser titan is hit hard. The Great Ice Wyrm is hit hard. The Lesser titan flees in terror! The Great Ice Wyrm claws you. The Great Ice Wyrm claws you. The Great Ice Wyrm bites you. You are covered with frost! The Great Ice Wyrm misses you. You are no longer resistant to cold.

Good timing, that. The Titan is fleeing! And the Great Ice Wyrm is about 50% dead from splash damage. We have to heal one more time, and our speed actually runs out before the fight ends (to be fair, we activated it, and then wasted a bunch of turns tunneling into a wall), but we manage to kill them both with Orb. Victory!

Alas, the Battle Axe is just of *Slay Evil*; the only other remotely interesting bit of equipment is a Short Sword of Gondolin.

More usefully, there's a Wand of Stone to Mud here, which means we can crack open Smaug and Hoarmurath's cell without being in LOS of both of them! Let's go do that.

Hoarmurath is a mid-tier Ringwraith, with 4500 HP. He's definitely killable, especially with our Mace of Disruption of Extra Attacks (560 damage/round against undead if all blows land!), but I'd like to reserve our ire for Smaug right now; fighting him is more straightforward. Hoarmurath can summon undead, for one thing. Imagine pulling an Undead Beholder or a Master Lich or an Elder Vampire here

From where we're standing, we can shoot down the wall with our wand. Hoarmurath is in front, so we can teleport him away; then we can kill Smaug. Double fire resistance, plus a Glyph of Warding, neuter him pretty handily.

The wall turns into mud! You have 4 charges remaining.

Hoarmurath of Dir disappears!

We only have a 40% chance of hitting Smaug in melee, so it's back to Orb for us. Hey, at least he's evil!

He also has zero luck breaking our Glyph, and never thinks to breathe fire at us. Easy victory!

His drop includes an Amulet of Devotion:

Even for a priest, these are pretty worthless.

The northern loop is easily cleared, except for the two last rooms:

To our west: Radagast the Brown, an Undead Beholder, and an Ice Troll. To our north: Scatha the Worm, Ar-Pharazon the Golden, a Death Mold, and a Rattlesnake.

We can deal with Radagast and the Undead Beholder the same way we dealt with Hoarmurath. Our Wand of Stone to Mud opens the way, then we teleport them out. Unfortunately, this gets us no loot -- Radagast picked it all up already. Oh well.

For the northern section, we do similarly. First, we wait until Ar-Pharazon is going to be the first out:

Then we open the way, and teleport him away.

Scatha the Worm is nearly a carbon-copy of Itangast the Fire Drake, except he breathes cold instead of fire. Unlike Smaug, he does think to use his breath weapon. It doesn't accomplish much besides destroying a couple of potions though. He also manages to break our Glyph of Warding, getting a single turn of melee attacks in before his health gets low enough to force him to flee.

In the northern inner sanctum:
And that's it!

Friar Tuck is leaps and bounds stronger than he was when we entered this level. Our speed is nearly three times what it used to be, we have slightly better elemental coverage, we have a source of telepathy, an end-game weapon, and a new spellbook! Let's take a look at the new and improved friar.

No spare inventory slots right now, though that Wand is dross. For that matter, we can probably chuck the Cure Critical Wounds potions; we haven't had to drink one in ages and the Potions of Healing can easily pick up their slack. The Mace of Disruption is putting us over our weight limit, but that just costs us a single point of speed, and we have plenty of that now.

With our newly-improved speed, the activation on our Crown is no longer so vital as it once was. If we find another crown with a good WIS bonus, it'd be worth considering swapping it out.

I'm amazed our STR score is so high, since we haven't made any kind of conscious effort to boost it. And of course, we still need more CON. A lot more CON.

Check out that saving throw! I think we should hit 100% with our next levelup.

Elemental immunities are always pretty, but outside of fire they're mostly just nice-to-haves. But hey! Nether resistance, and telepathy!

Next time: Tuck takes out the trash.