Monday, November 26, 2018

Demons 'n Datspells

God, that was tedious.

I spent about two weeks of running around dungeon level 1, casting every spell on every enemy type multiple times, until I had cast each spell on each enemy a minimum of 5 times at the highest stat for that spell. Quite frequently, a spell would fail, and the monster would subsequently kill me. Then I would have to re-roll a new one.

Yet another demon fails to yield to my fireball spell. I should really stop trying.

Every character that I made during this process had 18 for either IQ or Wisdom, and very rarely, both. Whenever I encounter an enemy, I would cast a spell that needed more data, and log whether it killed the enemy or not, as well as the stat governing the spell that was cast. Very few characters lasted long enough to gain new spells, and since a fresh character has only one spell from each school, this meant a LOT of runs through the dungeon.

Another constraint is that I only logged results for characters at level 1, and only against monsters at level 1, on dungeon level 1. It’s simply not going to be reasonable to get this quantity of data at higher levels, so I may as well eliminate these variables from my study by focusing only on resistances at level 1 across the board.

And so, I have two charts. The first chart represents my estimation of spell effectiveness when your stats are maxed out, and only considers spell casting results when the governing stat was 18:

Ghoul Demon Death Wizard Glass Spectre Man
Fireball 100% 0% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Lightning 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 0% 100%
Flaming Arrow 0% 75% 100% 25% 75% 75% 100%
Eye of Newt 75% 100% 0% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Kitchen Sink 100% 50% 100% 100% 100% 50% 100%
Sleep 0% 0% 0% 100% 100% 0% 100%
Charm 25% 0% 0% 75% 25% 0% 80%
Light Candle 71% 80% 85% 100% 100% 85% 100%
Holy Water 100% 100% 100% 40% 20% 100% 0%
Exorcise 16% 100% 100% 0% 50% 50% 100%
Pray 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Datspell 20% 0% 100% 100% 100% 16% 25%
Dispell 50% 50% 25% 20% 50% 75% 0%
Hold 25% 25% 0% 100% 66% 0% 40%

The second chart considers all spellcasting attempts regardless of stats, and is probably less accurate than the above:

Ghoul Demon Death Wizard Glass Spectre Man
Fireball 100% 0% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Lightning 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 0% 100%
Flaming Arrow 0% 50% 100% 9% 57% 50% 75%
Eye of Newt 50% 80% 0% 75% 80% 100% 75%
Kitchen Sink 66% 28% 85% 77% 75% 50% 66%
Sleep 0% 0% 0% 100% 100% 0% 100%
Charm 14% 14% 0% 71% 40% 11% 71%
Light Candle 41% 40% 46% 100% 55% 40% 57%
Holy Water 75% 87% 100% 22% 28% 66% 0%
Exorcise 9% 100% 75% 0% 33% 37% 85%
Pray 100% 75% 66% 85% 85% 87% 77%
Datspell 10% 0% 66% 66% 77% 11% 14%
Dispell 42% 42% 12% 50% 62% 80% 0%
Hold 25% 33% 0% 100% 25% 0% 40%

From these, a summary of what appear to be the most useful spells against each monster type:

Mage Cleric
Ghoul Kitchen Sink, Lightning Pray
Demon Eye of Newt, Lightning Exorcise
Death Flaming Arrow Holy Water
Wizard Sleep, Kitchen Sink, Lightning Light Candle, Hold
Glass Sleep, Eye of Newt, Lightning Pray
Spectre Eye of Newt Pray
Man Sleep, Flaming Arrow, Eye of Newt, Lightning Exorcise

The helpfile states that Sleep only works on enemies at level 4 and under. So it’s going to be useless pretty quickly. The all-or-nothing spells in general seem to not be worth it. Ghouls, Demons, and Deaths didn’t respond well to any of them. Wizards responded well to Hold, but Light Candle instantly killed them just as often, and if Light Candle fails, it will at least do damage and save me some hurt. Glasses and Men respond best to Sleep, but again, that won’t last long. Spectres respond well to Dispell, but Eye of Newt and Pray work even better.

Lightning has been 100% effective against all monsters except Spectres, but has a chance of damaging you too. Eye of Newt has been 100% effective against Spectres, so there appears to be no need to use Fireball against anything. But that could certainly change in the higher level game.

There are a lot of caveats here. If a damaging spell does not kill, then I have no way of knowing how much damage it did to the monster. It is entirely possible that I am underestimating the usefulness of damaging spells because the tests make no distinction between partial damage and failures.

More importantly, it’s possible that at higher levels, the percentages are utterly skewed to the point where my estimation of the best spells is completely wrong. On level 1, Pray kills Glasses 85% of the time. It took me 7 casts to estimate that. But who’s to say what the odds are on higher levels? If I meet a level 100 Glass, and Pray fails and then I die, how am I to know whether I got an unlucky 15% failure roll, or if the failure rate for Pray is drastically affected by level? And although Fireball never seemed to be useful in a situation where a gentler spell wouldn’t suffice, that too could change at higher levels, depending on how damage scaling works.

The final character I used in this weeks-long experiment cast Hold on a Spectre, who wasn’t amused and promptly made him victim #1246.


  1. I really like this level of detail. How much easier would you say, knowing these stats, is the early game? Does it make it venturing into dungeon level 1 100% consistent?

    1. Good question. Compared to when I started and knew absolutely nothing, my ability to survive level 1 has been much enhanced. At the start, if you fight or cast an ineffective spell, you're guaranteed to lose HP, and you don't start with much. That said, one could also get a general sense about what spells to use when through less intensive experimentation. It wouldn't take that long to realize, for instance, that Pray tends to work well against everything. But my data predicts Exorcise is better in some situations. Make what you will of that.

      It's still not 100% consistent. Your big problem starting out is that you only get one Mage and one Cleric spell. Regardless of your stats, you are glass once these run out. It's quite possible to run out of spells and be too far away from an exit (or just not know where they are) to get out alive.

      What you really want to find early on is a treasure chest. It is a crapshoot on whether it gives you enough gold to buy more SP or whether it blows up in your face, but early on it's worth the risk.


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