The Let's Play Archive

Dungeon Crawl

by Chakan

Part 50: GreatZebu, SpEn - One

Spriggan Speedrun, Part 1

I'll be playing a Spriggan Enchanter, with a special goal.

Spriggans are one of the best races in Dungeon Crawl, but also one of the most fragile. They're well-suited to sneaking around, stabbing things, and casting charms, hexes, and translocations. That makes them pretty much the best enchanters around. They have innate see invisible, which eliminates some common early-game problems. They're herbivores and have very slow metabolism. They can't wear gloves, boots, helmets, or heavy armor, but they have bonuses to evasion and magic resistance. They also have really bad HP.

All of this pales in comparison to the best thing about Spriggans: they're fast as hell. Normal movement delay is 10. For Centaurs it's 6. Spriggans have a movement delay of 6, which is like playing with boots of running and swiftness activated 100% of the time. We will be leaning heavily on the ability to run away from fights we don't like, which is almost any fight where our opponent can hit back.

Spriggans like to do everything as quickly as possible, and in that spirit, this playthrough will be a speedrun. In the most recent Dungeon Crawl tournament, players got banners for cool and unique in-game accomplishments. One of the toughest was Conqueror III, awarded for winning a game in under 50,000 turns. Only five players got it (one of them posts here as pivotal_lever). Four of them finished in the top 5 of the tournament, and all together they have over 700 online wins. They are all dramatically better than me at Dungeon Crawl, but regardless I'm going to do my best to take this Spriggan from zero to Zot and back in under 50k turns.

We start with a scant 9 HP and 4 strength, but we already have 18 EV. We have a
+1 dagger, and we'll get a lot of mileage out of it. Daggers get a nice bonus to
stabbing damage, above and beyond other short blades.

We can't really take more than one or two hits at this point without needing to
run away. We find an enchanted dagger, but the odds that it's better than our
starting dagger aren't great. Brands like fire, ice, and electricity aren't
great for stabbing because the stab damage will kill regardless of the brand,
and if the monster isn't asleep or confused the brand isn't strong enough to
really make us want to fight. It's better to have something like protection for
the AC bonus or distortion for the ability to get rid of monsters that we have a
hard time killing via teleportation or banishing.

At level 2, it's time to learn a spell. Enchanters get a great starting book. We
have ensorcelled hibernation, which we'll be using to put monsters to sleep from
now until the endgame. Of course, it won't work on enemies with cold resistance
(notably the undead), and if we wake up a hibernated enemy it'll be immune to
hibernation for 20 turns or so. For those creatures we have confuse, which is
also good for making your dumber enemies fall into deep water or lava.
Enslavement and invisibility are also good (especially invisibility), but I'll
cover them when we get to them.

Now that we have ensorcelled hibernation, our primary strategy will be to put
enemies to sleep from one square away, then dart in and stab them to death.

Like so. We'll be seeing a lot of this.

One of the big advantages of the Spriggan Enchanter is that you don't need to be
lucky with what you find. You'll always be able to get a decent dagger, a robe,
a buckler, and a cape. One of the disadvantages is that you constantly find
great stuff that you can't use, like a stack of poisoned javelins on D3.

Player ghosts are probably the most dangerous early game enemy.
They're immune to hibernation, so you have to confuse them and hope for the
best. Running and taking the stairs is often the best approach. Playing online
is fun because you see other people's ghosts, but it's also annoying because
sometimes the ghosts kill you using ridiculous bullshit.

The fact that this guy is described as "average" means that he was level 4-6
when he died. I decide to run down to the next level.

Where I promptly run into another ghost. I think better of my earlier cowardice
and and run back up to the previous floor to kill servecoffee.

A confuse and a few stabs do the job. Landing the first confuse is crucial. Once
the ghost is confused we can take it out pretty easily, but until then it's a
major threat. Sometimes that means you have to run if you don't land a confuse
in the first few attempts. The experience is more than worth the effort--we gain
two levels.

While read-id'ing scrolls, I find a portal to a sewer.

Most of the guys inside are chumps. Or at least they're chumps once they're

I foolishly try to sneak up
on these rats without waiting for my magic to charge back up (one of the perils
of speedrunning).

And of course they wake up. I'm not sure what a roaring mouse sounds like, but
I run away. We still come away with a nice haul of potions and scrolls.

Crimson imps used to be immune to ensorcelled hibernation, making them a big
pain. Not any more!

Orc priests are right up there with player ghosts when it comes to dangerous
early enemies. A single smite can do 17 damage, so if I happen to turn a corner
into two of them, I could be dead before I know it. It's really important not to
take more than one of these guys on at a time, and to keep my health high while
I'm fighting them.

Remember this guy? We ran from him before, but we've gained 3 levels since then.
He still looks extremely dangerous, though.

The experience is definitely worth the risk.

Ugh, Pikel is lurking nearby. One of the slaves wakes up, and I'm forced to run.

You don't even get experience for killing the slaves. I'd rather leave them
alone, but sometimes that's impractical.

One of the biggest risks for an early game SpEn is putting something dangerous
to sleep, then having it wake up and crush you when you step in to stab it. This
ogre missed me, but if it had hit it would have been awfully painful. As it is I
can just run away.

A digression on speedruns:

In each of these screenshots you can see a line in my stats that tells you about
turncount. In the last screenshot it reads "Turns: 2609.9 (2.4)". Durations in
crawl are measured in aut (short for "arbitrary unit of time", cousin to aum for
"arbitrary unit of mass"). This tells you that the game has lasted 2609.9 aut so
far, and my last action (going down stairs) took 2.4 aut. For most characters,
moving around takes 1.0 aut. For spriggans it takes 0.6 aut. Regardless of how
long it takes in aut, each action takes one turn. I've actually taken about
3500 turns at this point. The distinction isn't usually important, but your
score at the end depends on your turn count, and that's what I'll be using to
measure my success. Why does the game display duration labeled as turns when
your actual turncount is a different number?

If you want to finish the game quickly, there's no time to fully explore each
level before moving on. I take stairs when I find them, and usually don't
explore more than about 70% of any level. I'll be consistently underleveled
throughout the game. Fortunately spriggans have great aptitudes in most of the
skills I need, and I spend very little time engaged with monsters. I'm either
murdering them while they're helpless or running away, and I can do either one
perfectly well while underleveled.

Lower levels are more likely to spawn good items, so you end up with good gear
for your level with this approach. I pick this blowgun up expecting it to be
useful, and then never use it for anything. Sometimes you find good uses for
them, and other times they just take up inventory space. Throwing isn't really a
skill I want to train anyway. I'm focusing on hexes and stabbing.

Scrolls of immolation are actually kind of dangerous to a spriggan. I've almost
lost characters to scoll id'ing before. The noise attracts a lot of attention
too. Time to skip back up to the previous level.

I find a nice little vault with a bear and some honey. A nice find for a

I have a go at Pikel. It turns out he's slightly too strong to be killed in one
stab. This leads to me running away from him across half the level while trying
to put him back to sleep.

We go a long way before I succeed. Make sure never to run into unexplored
territory unless you have a death wish.

All right, a robe of magic resistance. Great find. Spriggans have naturally high
MR, so now we will be very hard to paralyze or confuse or banish. Elemental
attacks won't be a problem for quite a while, so this is nicer than fire or cold
resistance for now, although I'll probably prefer an elemental resistance by the

Time to learn enslavement. I think this spell is a little underappreciated.
Enchanters often have trouble with packs of enemies, because if one wakes up
then they'll all wake up, and you can only deal with one at a time. If you
enslave one or two of them, it's much easier to make your escape in the ensuing
confusion. It's great on yaks in lair, and later on it's very useful on

Sometimes you go down the stairs and need to go right back up again. This is one
of those times.

A good opportunity for enslavement. That and a few hibernations take care of the
gnolls. Gnolls are tricky to fight because they tend to have polearms, and they
can smack you from a square away while you try to hibernate them. Extra caution
is advised.

The temple. I find the hidden door and take a look at my god options.

SpEn isn't a build that particularly relies on any one god. I think Ashenzari
and Kiku are probably the strongest SpEn choices in general. Zin is surprisingly
viable, considering that his food restrictions won't bother you and sanctuary is
great for when you get stuck near dangerous monsters. I have a different idea in
mind for the LP though, so I won't take a religion just yet.

Instead I'll take more creatures out piecemeal. Eustachio isn't too dangerous as
long as you don't let yourself get surrounded by his summons.

Prince Ribbit, on the other hand, is a big threat. He hits like a truck, and
he's very difficult to run from since he blinks around.

He can even blink away as you put him to sleep, then wake up when you run after

He's also too strong to kill in one stab. As you can see here, he can take
between half and two thirds of my health in one shot. I teleport away and vow to
fight him another day.

Blork, on the other hand, is a chump. I just walk up to him, put him to sleep,
and murder him.

I'm rocking a ring of fire protection and a ring of +4 intelligence. Neither is
particularly great, but they're helpful to have.

Flagged portals can be really easy or incredibly tough, with rewards that vary

I get a map where kobolds throw axes of returning at you from across a moat.
Fortunately for me, if you confuse them they tend to fall in the water.

There's a pack of orc warriors at the end of the hall, who are very tough for me
at this point. Their resistance is high enough that it's not easy to put them to

Fortunately they're also vulnerable to the moat. Sadly I don't really find any
useful loot.

As soon as I get back to the dungeon I run into this ossuary.

There are some guardian mummies behind glass, and some easy skeletons.

And a big loot room with a sleeping guardian mummy in the middle. Do I dare?

I dare. And it wakes up almost right away.

Fortunately I'm faster than it is, so I can lose it in the outer rings of the
room and then sneak back for some treasure.

I have no way of killing the mummy, but it can't catch me. I run out of its
ossuary with all its good stuff. While id'ing my new scrolls, I make a great

A wand of healing! Maybe the most important item that I could find. Now I'm
feeling very good. I still need to find a wand of teleportation and a few key
spells, but this already improves my endgame prospects a lot.

A robe of cold resistance is also nice. I'll probably switch to it later on,
which cold attacks are more common, unless I find a robe of fire resistance.

Ack, bees! Big rooms of relatively tough dudes are a problem for us. I just
enslave the one closest to me, then shut the door on them all. Since bees can't
open doors, I can just leave them in there without worrying about it.

This hill giant could easily one-shot me.

Or I could one-shot it instead. This is a common situation as the game goes on.

Hungry ghosts can be a problem for spriggans. When they hit you, you get
hungrier. We have a limited supply of food, so I try not to stand next to them
if they aren't confused.

Uh-oh. Shafts are very dangerous, becuase they cut off all your escape routes.

It takes us down two levels, right to a +2 cloak. I run off without engaging the

On my way back up to floor 10, I run into this mess at the entrace to the Orcish

The mess includes a centaur and a player ghost. I run away, like a good

Once I get the ghost alone, I can take care of it.

I go back to clear out the mines entrance. Probably a bad idea. Note the orc
that's unaffected by hibernation--it must be wearing armour with cold
resistance. I promptly wise up and run.

I run back down to D12, where I find this buckler. Spriggans are fragile enough
that a buckler is a very good skill investment, even though they have a -3

I promptly start training shields, and I won't stop until I hit level 9 and
eliminate the penalties associated with the buckler. I've already got stabbing
up around 10, which will be enough to kill most everything for a while. Hexes
are starting to get high enough that I'll be able to cast invisibility soon, at
which point I'll turn it off. I'll leave dodging and stealth on forever.

Skeletal warriors are really dangerous at this point, and not vulnerable to
hibernation. I don't risk tangling with them.

Have I mentioned how great innate SInv is? It's great.

We find the lair. This is a major milestone in our quest. We start clearing out
the entrance so that we can get in safely.

Sadly there are a lot of creatures, and some of the don't want to go to sleep.
We have to run when we run out of MP.

But we eventually get almost everybody. The eyeball and the basilisk are both
really dangerous though, because they can immobilize us. We can't afford to take
free hits from monsters.

I use a little extra care, and take them on one at a time. No problem.

Now we finally have a place to make a stash. We don't have great carrying
capacity, so this is handy. Speed running isn't really consistent with visiting
your stash all the time, though. Ideally we'll be visiting the stash once on our
way out of the lair and maybe twice more before it's time to go win. This means
we'll be dumping a fair amount of stuff (wands mostly) on the dungeon floor if
it's not immediately useful.

We entered the lair on turn 10441, so we've already used 20% of our turn limit.
So far we've been playing hastily, but still pretty conventionally. We'll need a
more aggressive approach if we want to win in time.

Next time: We explore the lair and develop a plan for the mid-game.