Part 8: Seven Minutes to Midnight
Previously on Heroes...
Hiro Nakamura traveled to the end of the Gnomish Mines looking for help in his quest only to find them ransacked. A can of grease would be the only fruit of his labors. But with a fort teeming with soldiers still ahead, Hiro can only keep his head up and his feet moving forward in:
Chapter 8 - Seven Minutes to Midnight
Before we head down to Ludios though, let's do a bit more potion testing. I have all those 200 price potions that I haven't been quaffing in fear of polymorph - now that I have some spare unihorns, I'll start trying to id these. Dipping anything into a potion of polymorph will polymorph it - if I'm lucky, I might get a magic marker out of this.
Here are my target potions. As it turns out, for better or worse, dip testing them does nothing - they all give the same "Interesting..." message and nothing happens. Time to quaff ID!
I also missed the black potions - those turned out to be full healing, which is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
One of these days I'm going to get my hands on a potion of gain level. This potion is cursed, since it made the water demon rise through the ceiling - "gain a level", get it?
I'm done with the mines. Ludios, anyone?
First thing I do is make myself a stash right outside the portal. Don't want to take on a zillion soldiers while burdened.
Food rations are pretty heavy, especially when you have 19 of them. There's plenty of food in Ludios, so I probably won't miss those too much.
:gulp: All right, here we go. First up in Fort Ludios is a zoo with standard zoo enemies in it (ie pretty much anything). There's not too many zoo monsters, and it'll be a nice warmup for the never-ending stream of soldiers.
Just got to keep my eyes on the prize.
This is the best square to take on all the enemies from the zoo. The square with a ) on it is the only square from which enemies can attack me.
Fast forward 100 turns of me beating up zoo monsters one at a time.
Phase 2. Looks like I have a welcoming party.
And here's the magic square to take on those soldiers.
For all its numbers and tension, Ludios is actually pretty boring. You'll only face one soldier at a time, and if you stand on the magic square you won't even get zapped by wand-bearing soldiers on the other side of the door. Every few deaths, you'll see the message of "Soldier picked up a wand or a potion or a scroll". It's probably a good idea after your next kill to go pick up those wands/scrolls/potions before the soldiers use them up.
Picking up a random scroll from the pile. If you ever get hungry, just grab a K-ration or C-ration. They're the best food in the game, since they can be eaten in one turn.
Random wand? Potion of full healing? Why not?
You have GOT to be kidding me. Thank god I picked up that other 200 tharr scroll. Oh well, time to burn an Elbereth. I'm getting attacked on multiple sides by elves and soldiers, which are definitely my first target. I can pretty much ignore the rest of the monsters for the time being, since the Elbereth will keep them away - the soldiers ignore Elbereth and are my biggest concern, since I need to keep them in the bottleneck to make sure I don't get overrun.
Oh fuck me, again?
I'll save you from the next 150 turns of me slowly clearing out the room of enemies, one at time. Yellow HP notwithstanding, I'm never really in any sort of danger - the only really bad thing that could happen to me is a wand of death, and my amulet of reflection will protect me from that. Soldiers aren't very fast and don't do a ton of damage.
In the midst of the slaughter, I almost skip over this. One more level until the quest!
The line never ends.
At least the soldier is kind enough to identify wands of sleep for me.
And scrolls of teleportation.
After 320 turns, phase 2 finally comes to an end.
And the last soldier at the door is dead. Would you guess there's a phase 3 next?
But first, let's head back to that pile of dead soldiers. 18 pages worth of items. Pretty cool, eh?
The first step of phase 3 is clearing this moat of all its eels. Eels (and electric eels, and krakens) all possess a drowning attack that is a one turn instakill. A greased cloak will stop the eel from grabbing onto you, which is a good start, but the grease can wear off after several attacks. If you ever see the message "The eel swings itself around you", be prepared to freak out and consult the following list of options (taken from the wiki). Remember, you only have one turn to save yourself.
* Pray, which can get you out of trouble. * Engrave Elbereth, if you are on land * Try to kill the monster in one turn, or put it to sleep (this is risky) * Teleport it away * Freeze the water * Wear an amulet of magical breathing (you will still be held by the creature) * If you are levitating in a controlled fashion over dry land, stop levitating and the monster will become startled, releasing you
Put on a ring of levitation before facing eels, just in case. Luckily for me, I finish off these eels before they get a chance to wrap me up.
The next part of phase 3 is dragon time! This part's fun.
Black dragons can use a disintegration breath attack against you, which is pretty much exactly as bad as it sounds. Thankfully, reflection protects you from disintegration blasts. Black dragon corpses are also the only way to gain intrinsic disintegration resistance. Unfortunately, while I'm eating this guy, the other dragons come pay me a visit, and I completely forget to tin the corpse. Oh well, as long as I keep some source of reflection disintegration resistance isn't too important.
All dragons also have a chance of dropping scales, which can be converted into the best armor in the game, dragon scale mail. DSM is light, non-metal (so it doesn't affect spellcasting), has a ridiculous base AC, and also conveys some sort of resistance depending on the color of the dragon. Gray dragons give magic resistance, which is pretty much essential to win the game and I conveniently don't have. Unfortunately, this gray dragon doesn't drop scales when it dies.
Remember all those wands that did nothing when engrave tested? They're mostly pretty useless, like wands of probing or locking. There are, however, two useful wands that do nothing - turn undead and secret door detection. Secret door detection can be identified because it doesn't prompt for a direction when zapped. Turn undead will bring corpses back to life. It's definitely worth zapping all of my unknown "nothing" wands at this gray dragon corpse in the hopes of it reviving and giving me another shot at gray dragon scales.
First wand is undead turning, lucky me.
I proceed to kill and revive that dragon 4 times, until my wand runs out. No dragon scales. Boo that.
Of course, the other gray dragon that's wandering around drops scales on its first death. Good to see that the RNG God still has a sense of humor. I put the scales on immediately - they raise my AC by 3 points, but it's a worthwhile trade for magic resistance.
Engrave-testing a wand in the barracks as lightning. Now I have another backup in case my wand of fire dies and I need a burned Elbereth. The only disadvantage is that wands of lightning blind you when you engrave with them.
Well, what do we have here.
Bless that baby up, and...
-10 AC, baby! Let's go show Croesus what we're made of! Time to move into Phase 4!
Found his secret door. Just try and touch me now Croesus, I got -10 AC and magic resistance and reflection and he won't know what hit him.
Making an ice bridge into the throne room so I can go in and beat his ass down.
And here he is, the man himself. He won't even lay a finger on me with -10 AC.
What did I say - he didn't even touch me.
Don't underestimate Croesus - he hits really hard in melee with a 4d10 attack, averaging 20 damage each hit. Even with -10 AC, I decide to take the easy way out and drown him. If you do decide to take him out in melee, at least soften him with spells/ranged weapons/wands first, or put on a ring of conflict and let his throne monsters do a bit of the work for you.
Think I deserved that one for the GDSM.
Now we get to the heart of Fort Ludios - its vault. There's between 600 and 899 gold pieces on each of those squares. For reference, that mummy over there dropped some 14000 gold pieces when he died .
Unfortunately, each square has a 1/3 chance of being trapped, either with a land mine, a pit, or both.
So, let's fast forward through 10 screens of this:
and 20 screens of this:
and get to the good stuff.
All these gems are guaranteed.
Engrave testing a wand of slow monster.
Pretty good haul, huh?
Hiro emerges from the depths of Fort Ludios tired but triumphant, many thousands of zorkmids richer. Perhaps he will be returning to the Mines sooner than he realized...in the next episode of Heroes, Chapter 9 - Homecoming.
Next time on Heroes...