Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Data 'n Direction

Armed with some data-backed guidance on spells to use once the monsters get tough, I rolled a new character.

I got some pretty decent stats after several re-rolls.
  • Strength 17
  • IQ 17
  • Wisdom 18
  • Dexterity 15

Starting HP isn’t that important. It helps with survivability early on; a starting character with only 3 HP is probably going to die in any encounter where magic fails or runs out, but if you can survive long enough to reach dungeon level 2, you can easily harvest another HP or two per run. And when your HP measures in the hundreds, it’s not going to make any difference whether you started with 3 or 18.

Strength is more important, but maxing it out isn’t crucial. You can randomly find strength potions which permanently increase it, and although potions are sometimes poison, they are fairly low risk in my experience. The other stats can be increased by reading books, but this is too risky to even attempt, in my experience.

I played very, very cautiously for a while, never even leaving level 1 until I was strong enough to fight the monsters there without losing any HP. Even then, I farmed level 1 for gold and items, which is very slow and tedious with a safe approach.

When I found potions, I would always cast a cleric inspection spell first if I could. If it wasn’t poison, I’d sip. If the spell failed but I was at full health, I’d sip anyway, since it’s usually not poison, and I trust that sipping poison won’t do 100% damage. I found a strength potion pretty soon, which raised my strength to 18.

When I found chests, I would inspect them, which so far for this character has always revealed no useful information. I Carefully opened my first two chests for the early rush of much-needed gold, but after that I left them alone.

The unidentified chests are really frustrating, because they are usually safe to Carefully open, and the reward is significant. But I have no idea how much damage a trap can do to you. Even on level 1, traps might instantly kill a starting character with 18 HP, and I have no idea what the upper boundary is. The only way I could test that would be to develop a character with much more than 18 HP, and by then, I really don’t want to risk my life to find out.

Whenever I found magic items, I would clerically inspect them first, then visually inspect if the cleric spell failed, and then pick them up only if proven safe. I ignored books entirely.

During one farming run of level 1, I came across a potion of astral form. The effect of this potion prevents you from taking gold (or the orb), and causes you to drop any gold you’ve got (and presumably the orb too). The upside is that you may reliably teleport and passwall without spending any spell points. So I decided to drink it, and use the power to map out the lower levels of the dungeon until my spells started running out, and then teleport back. The mapping would be certain to prove useful later on, when I’d feel ready to farm the lower levels, and have maps to show me how to get back home.

I also discovered that teleporters and pits don’t occupy squares on the grid, but rather they occupy the edges in between squares, just as the walls do. Sometimes the edges have different features on either side; you may find a square has a wall to the south, but when you walk around the wall and enter the square immediately to the south, the north edge of that square is a teleporter. Other times, teleporters and pits occupy both sides of an edge, and may be entered from the square on either side of it.

Astral form not only lets you pass through walls and teleport up and down, but it also lets you float over pits, which are invisible and could be quite deadly if they drop you down to an unfamiliar level and you aren’t able to find or teleport your way back up. And if you stumble into an unseen teleporter and go down to an unfamiliar level, you can just cast teleport for free and go right back up to the level you came from.

Mapping out levels 1-5 was enough progress for one run. I returned, and called it a day. In the meantime, these were the items I found:
  • Magic sword +1
  • Ring of protection +1
  • Ring of power +1
  • Ring of regeneration +1
  • Ring of luck +1
  • Elven boots
  • Ring of swiftness

My maps so far:

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