Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Moria: Fouler things than orcs

My current feelings about Moria are a little more favorable than they were during my first posting, but not much. It's fairer than Rogue, but also more boring, and for how slow this game is, with its huge dungeons that run twice as deep, it's still not quite fair enough - bad luck can kill you and undo days of progress no matter how carefully you play.

Starting now, I'm permitting myself one save backup per day. Enough that I won't have to totally restart and lose days or even weeks of progress, and perhaps afford to play a bit more adventurously, while still forcing myself to be cautious, to fear death, and occasionally accept semi-permanent setbacks.

I returned to town with a good 1,600 gold pieces and loaded up on lightweight armor and a warhammer for good measure, plus two scrolls of word-of-recall (one to go straight to level 12, one for the return trip), and some rations and oil. With the 100 pieces left over I bought some scrolls of Treasure Detection. I probably wasn't going to be able to equip much better gear with my mediocre strength and slight Elvish build, but I noticed that the stores were now selling scrolls of Enchant Armor and Enchant Weapon. They'd still be there when I was richer, I figured.

91 lbs at 5'9" seems anorexic even for an elf.

In Rogue a Slow Digestion item would be godly. Here it's barely a convenience.

My strategy, henceforth, was to play by this loop:

  • Buy two scrolls of word-of-recall
  • Replenish rations and oil flasks
  • Upgrade gear as much as possible
  • Buy scrolls of Treasure Detection and other toys with leftover money
  • Read a scroll of word-of-recall to return to the lowest visited level
  • If no meaningful progress occurred (such as leveling up, or finding/buying improved gear, stat-upgrading potions, or other permanently useful things) during the last loop, then take the first staircase downward
  • Explore the entire level, using Treasure Detection to find veins of precious metal, killing as much as I can, collecting as much loot as I can find and carry
  • Word-of-recall out at the first sign of trouble or when the level is explored
  • Buy all the scrolls of identify, identify everything, sell everything I don't want to keep for the maximum price
  • If stat-drained, buy potions of restoration if available
  • Repeat the loop


My runs were for the most part uninteresting, and more often than not, a single loop was enough per level. Sleep, retreat, and repeatedly blast with magic missile worked fairly reliably, though eventually I graduated to Frost Bolt and Fire Bolt, and started using Slow Monster once Sleep began to fail me.

I took notes on some of the more interesting encounters.

  • One room had an invisible dexterity-draining nuisance. After dealing with it I made a habit of purchasing scrolls of Detect Invisibility, which turned out to be not as useful as you might hope as it only reveals invisible creatures for a single turn. Deeper there were even level-draining invisible things.
  • Molds come in many varieties and they tend to do bad things to you when you stand near them. Thankfully they can't move, but they sometimes camp near room entrances. Stone-to-mud helps you enter without brushing against them.
  • Disenchanter type monsters, whose attacks can debuff your magic gear.
  • Brigands steal items from your pack. I lost a book of magic this way! Thankfully no spells were lost when I re-bought it.
  • Invisible summoners are nasty guys who are nearly impossible to locate/kill and will swarm you with monsters. They necessitated a retreat/recall every time.
  • Gelatinous Cubes are no good, obviously, because they will trash your armor if they get near you. Thankfully they're quite slow, so I would deal with them by blasting them with moderately powerful spells, then running to safety, resting to recover mana, and returning while employing Detect Monster to avoid an unpleasant surprise. They seem to drop good stuff too.
  • Umber Hulks! They're as bad as they are in Rogue; their confusing gaze renders you unable to effectively fight, cast spells, or read scrolls, and one of my deaths occurred when I descended stairs into a room with an Umber Hulk and a single self-replicating rat.
  • Stone Giants sound powerful, but a single cast of stone-to-mud instantly kills them. Golems too.


Eventually I was able to buy some scrolls of enchant armor and weapons as a regular part of my shopping which I read immediately. The armor enchantment would boost a random piece of armor, and the weapon enchantments would enhance my equipped weapon, though it would sometimes fail as the numbers got higher. I also picked up the final spellbook, which was too advanced for me to learn anything within right away, but gave a glimpse of some powerful spells like "Haste Self," "Teleport Other," and even "Genocide."

By character level 17, my Identify spell's success rate increased to 19%, which sounds poor, but worked often enough that it was worthwhile to use it instead of relying on scrolls, which always sold out too quickly.

Some of the monsters I found on levels 20 through 35 were:

  • Wights and vampires drain your levels on touch, but move slightly slower than you, and some varieties stop to cast spells. They can be beaten without trouble by retreating and firing spells behind you as you gain distance, provided you have enough charted distance behind you (and don't back into a respawned or aggroed monster)
  • Giant Purple Worms look like regular worms, but are incredibly tough, and barf armor-destroying acid all over you. 
  • Spirit Trolls normally aren't too bad, but one time I encountered two of them embedded in the walls of a narrow corridor, where I couldn't hit them, but they could hit me. By the time I realized what was going on, it was too late to save myself.
  • Young Dragons, who resist spells, inflict several hits, and breathe deadly elements. If you can hit them with a cast of Slow Monster then you can kite them and even beat them in melee, but their breath makes things dicey.


I am now at character level 27, and have made multiple unsuccessful attempts at surviving dungeon level 36. I'm starting to encounter Mature Dragons, who are like Young Dragons but stronger and more likely to use their devastating breath attacks. Gray Wraiths are like Wights but have a mana-draining ability at a distance which robs me of my offensive power, and my retreat-and-cast-spells strategy quickly forced me into a corner where another bad thing killed me. Mana in general runs out very quickly; I have 41 points, and my workhorse offensive spell Fire Bolt costs 9, and plenty of monsters need two or more. Magic Missile is probably more efficient per point, but it's just too weak to use against anything that poses a threat unless it's quite far away or immobile. Spells like Sleep and Confuse hardly ever work any more. Slow Monster works on occasion but takes 9 points and usually requires a few tries. I do have access to some spells that I haven't tried much of yet like Polymorph Other, Teleport Other, and Haste Self.

1 comment:

  1. "Brigands steal items from your pack. I lost a book of magic this way!"

    This is why advanced players carry two copies of each book and 3 scrolls of Word of Recall.


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