Part 3: Testy, TrBe - Three
Returning to Testy, we go down to D:7 to find our second unique, Prince Ribbit. Notable to me because he killed my first character to get to D:7. Prince Ribbit is a blink frog, the upgraded version of giant frogs, nastier and able to cast blink. Prince Ribbit isn't that much more difficult than a normal blink frog (especially because they tend to come in packs) so I berserk and kill him, we gain a level in Unarmed, going up to 7.
We force a hippogriff to flee and find ourselves in melee with a jelly. Jellies are pretty nasty because being in melee with them can corrode your weapons and armour. They can surprise newer players with the damage they dish out. Also in this screenshot: we're in a room level, so called because it's full of rooms that you can sometimes get in, experience tells me that there will probably be a few meaner things on this level, but nothing we wont be able to deal with. Later, we encounter Sigmund who goes invisible, even with the minus to hit against things you can't see, we splat him and gain a level in fighting, to 6.
The trick to these levels is to hug the outer walls and pay attention to what's behind you. Also, we kill that hippogriff from earlier. We find another jelly and kill it, but this one corrodes our sweet robes, back to animal skins for now. Always change armour (especially body armour and large shields) in a safe place because those actions take many (5+ turns.)
After killing a giant frog, orc, and orc priest, we level to 9, giving us +2 strength. A note on enemy spellcasters, they sometimes cast a spell called cantrip which will make them shimmer or give you an ominous feeling, etc. Cantrip does nothing but waste a turn and look cool.
The Orcish Mines. We would do well to ignore them until Testy is more...sustainable. To go in to more detail, orc, as its usually called, is a branch off of the dungeon proper, it contains monsters stronger than their DL counterparts and offers great rewards. We wont be stepping into there for quite some time, but orc is a very good place to get a few levels of XP to help you prepare for the rest of the dungeon. Orc is special in that it shows up well before you're supposed to clear it, whereas most other branches are more DL appropriate. Be prepared for large groups of decently tough enemies when entering the orcish mines. Moving on we find this lovely scene:
Joseph and a pack of orcs. I'll be honest, I don't think we could take that armoured looking orc (called an orc warrior) alone, much less with wizard and unique backup. The first thing I do is check the failure rate on Brothers in Arms, that reinforcements ability from Trog. I'm told it's 50%, awful odds. Next I check all of the items at my disposal, which just turns out to be a potion of might. berserk actually applies the same bonus might does and I don't think they stack, but might is better to start with as if they fight goes long, I don't want the downside to berserk if at all possible. If I run, I probably can't get away without some luck because the wizards can potentially speed themselves up and cast at me, so it's time to go all in. I activate Brothers in Arms and...
Success! A berserk ogre is pretty good and allows us some leeway with positioning. Namely, he'll be in front of us to take as much of the damage as possible.
The warrior steps up and does some damage to us, but falls to the berserk ogre. The wizards both go invisible and one dies before the other poofs back into visibility. Our ogre friend mops up, almost dying to Josephs sling before he fells him. We gained ½ XP for the Ogres kills and still do pretty well for ourselves. I probably would have survived even if BiA failed, but it made things a lot less close. Bottom line, another bad fight start that was made better by being a TrBe. Still, there wasn't really a way to avoid doing that fight without never going out into the open.
We head down to D:8 and improve our dodging skill to level 7 by killing an orc pack, a centaur and an ogre.
The statue there is a shimmering altar of Xom, the face changes and contorts every turn, a pretty neat effect. Later, we get in a fight with another jelly and it corrodes our animal skin to -1, but we find some new threads in short order. The rest of D:8 is boring, so we move on. Let's talk about AC/EV/SH.
Shield is only available if you're wielding a shield and gives you a good chance to completely block arrows, melee attacks, and a number of spells. Shields also severely hurt your ability to fight or cast spells at low skill levels. Evasion is like shield, but dodging and with no penalty to casting/attacking, you completely dodge attacks or they hit you, no in-between. AC reduces the damage you take by a certain amount and so works more like a gradient. Heavier armours inhibit evasion, attacking, and spellcasting more, but they give some potent AC bonuses. With higher skill in armour it harms you less, but the penalty never goes away fully. We'll talk a lot about AC later because it's a pretty important and complex mechanic. Back at the ranch:
Seriously, Grum? Grums thing is that he has a pack of war dogs, we stair-dance him so we can fight him man to man. Nothing exciting happens after we kill him, he doesn't even have a cool weapon or armour.
This vault is the worst, it was there to replace the hive which used to be a branch like the orcish mines. The area is swarming with bees and a queen bee, all can poison you and have pretty fast speed. Most people don't think it's that bad, but bees always give me huge amounts of trouble. We'll just leave this be for now.
Psyche blindsights me around a corner and spouts a few lines. While not very dangerous alone, she has a penchant for being annoying with a group. I do love the lines of some uniques in this game. We kill her and Trog is happy that there's one less spellcaster. The only thing interesting after that is a staff of wizardry, which is useless for us.
The first interesting thing on d:10 is Erolcha, a unique ogre mage who might be able to banish you to the abyss, a sucky place and pretty much guaranteed death for this character right now. I pop Trogs hand to give us magic resistance and go to town on her. She hits me with a nasty high level spell, Lehudib's Crystal Spear but then dies. Nothing else happens on d:10 and Testy moves down.
A troll, this is the more monstrous version of ourselves, a disgrace to our race and they commence in a test of who dies first.
We win. Then there's another troll and we shred him with almost no difficulty. But our D:11 is splintered into three areas and I have a feeling something is on it, so we try all three staircases, the third yields this sight.
Threat assessment: the imp has the second level fire wand, which can do mean damage, but the only real threat is the troll, we just stair dance to kill all of them.
Ballistomycetes are part of a colony that uses giant spores to spread the fungal infection. Kill ever part of the colony and you get the 500 experience. Giant spores are nasty if you've no ranged attack as they can confuse and do lots of damage to you. This colony was new and only had the single 'shroom, so we destroy it.
Suddenly, we fall through a shaft, can Testy make it out of this one? I don't know yet either.