Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Danger 'n Darkness

Well, I finally had a close call.

While mapping level 17, I soon found a teleporter to level 16. On arrival, I found a chest. Inspecting it, it appeared to be safe. So I happily opened it, eager to find out what riches awaited at such depths. Or perhaps to find a pittance and have it confirmed that chests are a waste of time past a certain point.

Surprise! Inside was a “Gem of brightness.” These things blind you for some number of turns. Not wishing to wander blindly without knowing where I was, I stayed still for a few turns. I remained blind. I stayed still a few more turns. Then something started chewing on me, and then I had an encounter.

The usual options of fight/escape/magic/cleric presented themselves, but I had no idea what I was facing, or what level it would be. I decided to cast lightning bolt, and deal with the risk of backfiring. At least it would probably kill the monster.

Result: “The Spectre is not amused. Press NEXT to fight”

Crap. The one enemy in the game who isn’t harmed by lightning bolt. With no choice but to fight it at its full strength, I did.

Thankfully, I won, but this episode did a number on my HP, and I was still blind. Rather than wait it out, I decided to cast teleport a few times to reach higher ground where the monsters would be tamer. I still had plenty of SP, so it seemed wise to use it to get as close to the surface as possible, at least until the blindness wore off, even if it meant abandoning this run.

A few levels up, and the blindness wore off. I walked back to the surface, flinging spells at the easy enemies on the way back, and escaped without further incident.

The run wasn’t a total bust. I charted a good chunk of level 17, and I also gained enough XP to go from level 85 to level 111. And I learned a lesson – never trust chests! The only way you can avoid a gem of brightness is to never open a chest.

I returned to level 17 via Excelsior Transporter and continued to map it out. In the process, I found the dragon, guarding the orb!

I declined to cast the dragon spell, and just ran. True to the helpfile, the dragon did not pursue.

I finished mapping out the level, and started going home. On the way, I found a potion of treasure hunting. So I got a little bold, reckless perhaps, and turned on the gold gathering function. Gold started coming in by the hundred thousand. Enemies got tougher, reaching in excess of level 100, but they still fell to my spells. On the upper floors the gold piles got smaller, but the enemies didn’t relent any. Then on level 2, I encountered the toughest enemy yet, a level 127 Glass.

Pray did not kill him, and I was a bit concerned. Luckily, it must have hurt him pretty bad, because he didn’t do much damage when I had to fight him.

And so, I returned to the surface, level 17 mapped out, and over 600K richer, and 150HP healthier.

Then I mapped out levels 18-20 without incident, although levels 19 and 20 were deliberately annoying. On level 17 on my way back from mapping level 20, I decided to check out the dragon again. Yep, he was still in the same place where I found him the first time, and so was the orb. And yep, I still ran away.

Maps completed, I now have over 900 HP, and am at level 137. I suspect this is still not nearly enough to take on the dragon and escape with the orb. But now that my maps are finished, I can do some serious grinding. I won’t re-dive straight into level 20 quite yet, but I’ll start at 12, and rebase further down as I start to feel more confident that I can escape with a fat sack of gold every single time.


  1. Are the maps different each time you create a character? Any idea where you'd like to be when you finally take on the dragon? How would you determine that without a guide?

    1. I expect that the maps are the same each time you create a character. Level 1 has been the same each time, and the levels beneath are certainly not randomly generated. If I understand the history lesson correctly, power users may change the map layout, which would have made each regional copy of dnd a unique experience back in the day. My level 15 might be a completely different experience from the level 15 that the Pelletts played in 1975.

      I have no clue how powerful you must be to take on the dragon. Given that I still enjoy a substantial HP/XP boost just from exploring level 20, I estimate I'm not there yet. It does seem like the only way to get empirical data is to try. If it kills you, you probably weren't strong enough. If you kill it, then you were strong enough, and your remaining HP tells how close a fight it was. This is ostensibly a very costly way to get data!

      One interesting fact is that the ingame records show that only 4 people have ever died to the dragon, and the dragon has been killed 115 times. In comparison, 1100+ have been killed by every other monster type each (Deaths are particularly deadly with 1700+ player kills), and 5100+ killed by the dungeon itself. I'm assuming that this data goes no farther back than Cyber1's resurrection from around 2008. What do we make of this data? Does it mean that the dragon is a surprising pushover? Or does it mean that the lesser monsters serve as a natural selection device, and that the players who can survive them are playing cautiously enough to beat the dragon too?

  2. My guess is that like gold, the orb attracts monsters. Killing the dragon will be the easy part, the hard part will be escaping the gauntlet of monsters trying to take the orb from you.


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