Majang's Octopode Fire Elementalist Miracle

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This page is a Diary of a Crawler, the journal of an individual character. This page probably contains spoilers.
Version 0.15: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.

Beginning almost at the End

This diary comes a little bit as a surprise even to myself. I would certainly not recommend to anyone starting out as a Fire Elementalist Octopode, not even as any Octopode whatsoever. Being an Octopode is usually a foolproof way to meet an untimely end somewhere on Dungeon 3 or 4, when you meet your first ogre, or when Sigmund draws his scythe across your spongy throat after you turn a wrong corner. This is precisely what I had in mind when I started this game – I did not intend it to get very far, as I was just hoping to do something interesting while waiting for the official release of version 15. Now the release has happened, and I still find myself stuck with my trunk version aquatic creature. I just got lucky, I assume, to just be alive after finishing the mid game, which is a lot farther than I got with some a lot more hopeful characters in the recent past. All of a sudden you realize that an Octopode who has made it that far seems to have tremendous potential to get even further, and with this hopeful attitude I am now starting a player’s diary, as this unlikely kephalopod may actually be a nice candidate for something I want to demonstrate in a diary for a long time: A 15 rune blaster ascension supported by The Shining One.

Did I say I was lucky to get here? In between it did not feel like that, although I do admit that I escaped death on numerous occasions. But then, I certainly had my fair share of bad deals, which saddle my game and limit my options where I am right now. As I said, this Octopode started out as a Fire Elementalist, and I quickly converted to Vehumet as soon as I found him in the Temple, which came late on D7. As a FE would, I heavily trained spellcasting, conjurations and fire magic, rounded off by air magic as soon as I could get my tentacles on a spellbook with Mephitic Cloud. My idea, as usual, was to obtain Fire Storm and Tornado through Vehumet. Now, much to my surprise, he gave me neither. His three final spells are Chain Lightning, Lehudib's Crystal Spear and Shatter. I guess I need to revise some sections on guides I have earlier written on this matter. As I found out now, Vehumet is no guaranteed way to the end-game spells that you need or want, if you train the relevant skills. Certainly, up to now, I did not train a single level of Earth Magic, and get two high-end earth spells for that.

Well, the game compensated by letting me find a Book of the Sky, which at least put Tornado within my reach. But a Book of Annihilations is nowhere to be seen.

Where am I now? I have cleared all of the Lair, the Orcish Mines, all of the Elven Halls, all of the Dungeon, the entire Depths, both Lair side branches (Shoals and Spider's Nest), and the first four levels of the Vaults. Some of this was quite fun to play. Going with an Octopode into the Shoals is even better than having permanent flight, as you can get at items in deep water. Other places were challenging – I braved most of the Spider’s Nest without poison resistance, until I took a Staff of poison out of Arachne’s beautiful hands when she decided she did not need it anymore. Later on I was delaying the last level of the spiders, because I did not have a way to see invisible (and you do want to see those ghost moths before they drain your energy to zero). Only clearing the last level of the Elven Halls finally gave me a ring of see invisible, and I felt confident to go.

Another piece of bad luck is my leveling. I am now at XL 25, and my innate intelligence is at a measly 24. Every single random stat increase went into strength or dexterity. This was compounded by my own stupidity (probably an immediate consequence of my lack of intelligence), when at one stage I leveled up to choose a stat increase, and did not quite get this. I thought I fired off another fireball, which I have assigned to the d-key, and what really happened was another increase to my dexterity. So I have to face the fact that I am under-brained for being a good blaster, and on top of that am lacking the most crucial spell for my FE strategy, the fire storm. I hope that I will find a Book of Annihilations eventually, and I keep training fire magic and conjurations at high levels, so I am ready when it happens. Currently I am at 20 and a bit for spellcasting, and at 16 for my other magical skills, air, fire and conjurations. Other skills I have trained are fighting, now at a robust 15, dodging (10), shields (10), evocations (10), maces & flails (5) and staves (8). But the crosstraining between these two last skills means that my maces & flails skill is actually halfway to 8, and staves very close to 9. None of all these skills is anywhere near to where I want them. For example, with Vehumets assistance and a wizardry effect of one ring I have Tornado down to a failure rate of 28 %. That is a far cry from a confident use of that spell, and so far I have not cast it. Fighting I will not switch off until it is maxed out, because of the extra HP I gain from it. Shields I also want to bring up all the way, so that I can wield a large shield without any penalties to my casting. That is almost all the physical protection I have as an Octopode. Currently I carry a buckler of poison resistance, so my shields skill has me way out of any penalties for that.

Once, while clearing the Depths, a bazaar was announced to me. I used a scroll of magic mapping and then hacked my way to the entrance, almost getting myself killed. Once in, I found an armour shop with not a single item I could wear, a weapon shop with entirely mediocre junk, and a book shop with nothing I wanted. I spent not a single piece of gold before going out to face my angry pursuers again.

Not everything went bad, though. On the plus side I have both a staff of fire and a staff of air. Together with three rings of fire that already now gets my fire conjurations up to 9# of spell power. If I ever get to cast a fire storm, it will be quite a furnace! Unfortunately I have to balance those rings with two rings of cold resistance, and I am still deep in the negative. I’m also the proud owner of the ring of the Mage, which gives wizardry, MR++, and +3 INT. I’m sure I will keep that for a while. Another artifact ring gives +3 Dex and +2 Int, but I guess I will hopefully find something much better soon. That is all the artifact equipment I have so far. My hat is just that, and I had to read a scroll of acquirement to get it in the first place (sometimes this game is a real cheapskate), to then bring it up to +2 AC by reading two scrolls of enchant armour. Otherwise my AC is not bad for an octopode: 12, thanks to a +5 ring of protection, and a lucky sip from a potion of beneficial mutation, which gave me the first level of iridescent scales – +4 to AC, about the best shake a rubber-skinned octopode like me can drink!

My other vital statistics: 11 STR, 29 INT, 16 DEX. My EV is at 19, and I think I will get it much higher, once I start training dodging again, which I don’t do now. All my current experience goes into my magical skills, fighting and shields, which for now I want to bring up to 15.

I have almost all the good wands, including a wand of healing. The only one missing is a wand of teleportation, but I managed to kill Mennas even without it. There were a few other uniques, for example Boris, who turned himself invisible on me, and I still brought him down. Probably my biggest accomplishment so far in the game. But I have yet to meet Mara, Norris, Saint Roka and a few more bogeymen I find very scary. What do I have to fight them, when I meet them? Fireball, Bolt of Fire and Bolt of Magma are all very effective with all my fire boosters, and the Magma Bolt works just fine against fire resistant enemies, as a good number of fire giants found out in the Depths and Vaults. I also have Orb of Destruction at my disposal, just like the other attack spells at a failure rate of 1% or better. For melee I mostly use my staff of fire, but my staff of air would be just as effective. For defense I’m using Deflect Missiles, which kept me out of trouble already a few times. Otherwise I have learned flight, but I never used it so far, Delayed Fireball and airstrike. I still hold on to my early spells from the Book of Flames, but have not used them in quite a while. Mephitic Cloud is also still in my portfolio.

Liberating Vaults 5

Now, to work. I have seven open spell levels. If I forget flame tongue, that would be enough to learn Chain Lightning. Alternatively I could learn ring of flames, which would give me good protection against any cold projectiles and spells, and boost up my fire spells even further. That’s what I’m going to do. Done. But in fact, that renders all my minor fire spells obsolete, and forgetting flame tongue, Conjure Flame and Sticky Flame gets me another 8 spell levels. Chain Lightning it is! It is even already at 1% failure rate, as opposed to the 14% I still have with RoF.

So, my next stop is Vaults 5. I’d love to have fire storm going there, but for now I will have to do with Tornado. I still remember how I cast Tornado for the first time ever going down into Vaults 5, and I love this spell ever since. Before descending down the stairs this time, I prepare myself. First I eat some permafood, so that my high level spells don’t starve me in the middle of the fight. Then I make sure that my equipment is right: all rings of fire, amulet of warding plus a ring of positive energy for all those shadow dragons down there. Now I cast RoF and use my staff of energy to get my MP up to max. Next I swap to the staff of air and drink my one and only potion of brilliance. This brings the failure rate of Tornado down to 19%, which is still a lot more than I find comfortable. I’m going in.

Is it RoF that has all the vault guards wide awake? I feel expected. No matter. For good measure I’m reading a scroll of immolation (a very useful tool for fire-proof people like me) and get to work with my first Tornado. Super, no miscast! While I recharge my MP, I watch the fireworks. It takes me quite a while to just read through all the messages of exploding vault guards, and only a handful of them still stand after the first turn of this. I have taken some damage, however, and need to be very careful. More enemies are already creeping out of the vaults, among others a gold dragon. I will stay one more turn and see what happens. I engage the dragon with Orb of Destruction, but I forgot that this is not a good idea to do in a Tornado. A vault warden shows up and blocks the stairs, so I need to deal with him first. While I do that, the dragon gets blown up by my orb against all odds, and the warden succumbs to the second fireball thrown at him. I’m still at 96 HP (out of 177), and my MP is almost full. I decide to linger somewhat longer. That may have been a mistake, because two new vault wardens come from two different directions, and many other mighty enemies come out of the woodworks. My Tornado has run its course, so it is time to unleash a new one. Just the experience of the last few turns has brought the failure rate down to 14%, but I am also still under the influence of brilliance.

Now it is getting dangerous. An ancient lich joins the fight, and one of the wardens is hiding behind a stone giant. How can I get at him without fire storm? Bolt of Fire does it, and the other warden loses his focus in between, getting caught by the Tornado. The lich, meanwhile, reanimates everything that was slain since my arrival, but all these skeletons and zombies just end up to be blown away a second time. I even manage to kill the lich before finally retreating upstairs, with 49 HP and 7 MP left. Not bad for a first descent. Healing and recharging, I take stock. Tornado is now at 22%, even without brilliance, almost as good as it was when I went down the first time. I prepare myself just like then, minus the potion, take a potion of speed instead, and descend again. There I read another scroll of immolation. The potion of speed was a mistake, because I miscast Tornado, and end up with yellow contamination. First things first, I get the Tornado going on second try, and then I want to drink one of my two precious potions of cancellation. Before I can do so, the contamination disappears on its own, without mutating me. Phew! But the next Tornado is another miscast, contaminating me again, and this time the potion needs to be invested. I slip up again with no living enemies in sight.

Refreshed, I go down for the third time, and still the coast is clear. Time to explore. As is generally advisable, I first liberate the corridors around the four vault areas, killing lots of high-end monsters on my way. The experience to be gained down here is impressive, as I quickly make the jump to XL 26. One of the vaults has very close quarters, and suddenly I face two white ugly things at once. With my C---, they almost kill me before I even notice they are there. Ring of Flames, magma bolt and a potion of heal wounds save me for now. Maybe my fixation on fire boosts is not entirely wise. In any case, my inventory is full of loot, and I need to head for the Lair to relieve myself. Returning, I loot the last two vaults. Generally, the loot is not spectacular (I would call a Book of Annihilations spectacular, but this I do not find here), but a few items do have value. There is another scroll of acquirement (remember, the only one so far gave me a +0 hat!), and a potion of experience, which gets me across the final limit of XL 27. The scroll I stash away for now, hoping for a few more book finds in Zot before reading it. But I did find another potion of brilliance, and a second ring of protection gets my AC up to 16; I trade it for a ring of fire. The most disappointing aspect on looting Vaults 5 is that there was not a single artifact ring in there. I could certainly do with one or two more of them.

Completing the basic game

Talking about Zot, I am still not really ready to go there. The thing I’m missing most is an amulet of resist mutation. What do I do now? Possibly I could get one in the Slime Pits, but going there, I need that amulet just as urgently. I may be lucky to find something in the Crypt, but I don’t want to go there before converting to TSO, and I was hoping I could postpone this till finishing Zot. Well, it appears that these are all my options. In theory, I could also try my luck in the Abyss, but that again is much more likely to get me mutations than remedies against them, so no thanks. Braving Pandemonium at my current strength (or lack thereof) is also not advisable. More promising it would be to use my three runes to enter the Ziggurat I found on Depths 1, but I would not try to complete it, and that would then be something of a waste. So for now I decide on Zot, and hope that I will not meet an orb of fire too soon. I only have two potions of cure mutations lying in my stash.

Zot 1 initially goes very well, but then I encounter bands of draconians who hit me with all they have, and that is a lot. Three times I need to teleport away to escape, to later attack them from a better position.

Zot 2 continues in this vein, but Tornado is now a lot more reliable, and does a good job at crowd control in open spaces. I am less impressed with Chain Lightning, which I just have to cast way too often to disable enemies in melee range. I can’t afford to have monsters bashing me from melee for more than one or two turns. This place is also crawling with curse toes, monsters which sound and look a lot more entertaining than they really are. They are extremely hard to destroy, and brutally deadly.

A vault on Zot 3 hides a potion of cure mutation, which in my current situation is a very good find. Still no orb of fire, so far, and I wish it would stay that way. Zot 4 also goes without the orbs, but also without any significant loot.

Now to Zot 5, then, but I will only clear out the outer area. In those orb chambers I know there are at least three orbs of fire, and I am not ready for them, not without mutation resistance. My first descent into the area is so revealing in terms of the layout of the land that I think I can afford doing it without reading a map. The chambers must be to the north, and I am in the western limit of the relatively harmless area, in sight of the dividing wall to the chamber area. Naturally I turn south and then east to explore carefully, always with a good way back to the stairs I came down on. There is some opposition here too, like a band of draconians and another curse toe, and some ancient liches. But the layout is open, and that is good for casting Orb and Tornado. I’m getting more and more endeared to my constriction ability. An ancient lich finds me, already down on energy from my last fight, and I can’t get him to roll over with the MP I have. Well, he makes the mistake of stepping into my ring of flames, and there I just grab him with my tentacles. Together with a generous helping of my staff of fire, he collapses in two turns. Right then a Killer Klown wants to exploit the situation, but he dies in the very same way, and constriction even seems to prevent him from blinking away. I make it to the far east side of the map to see a second set of stairs, but right there the first orb of fire shows up, probably attracted by the noise I created before. Inexplicably, it does not notice me, in spite of my ring of flames. I make it around a corner and back to the stairs to wait a few turns. This is risky, as I am still low on energy from a fight with a shadow dragon. The orb shows up again, but I have a clear shot for an orb of destruction. I bring the orb of fire down with two of my orbs, a magma bolt and two well placed shots of my wand of cold. It did not even try to mutate me, so my genome is still intact. Killing the orb also brought my shields skill up to 15, so I can switch off the training of that for some time.

In the middle of the map is an enclosed area disgorging an army of high-end draconians. It is almost entertaining to see how they are happily killing each other with all the poison and hellfire that is obviously meant for me. All I have to do is watch in fascination and shake my wobbly head, to then just unleash a Tornado to clear up the resulting mess. The draconians are supported by another ancient lich. All in all, this is the most interesting structure I have ever seen on Zot 5. Maybe there is some loot in there? Yes, indeed, a few scrolls and a Book of Dreams. Not too high on my shopping list.

Now I’m far away from the next stairs, and another orb of fire shows up. Teleporting away is out of the question, so I need to fight it. Once more I succeed, thanks to the open layout, and once more the orb doesn’t even try to mutate me. This is going well. All in all I have already killed four or five ancient liches and two orbs on Zot 5, and I still have not even seen the entrance to the orb chambers. Can things get much worse in there, or did I already defeat all the relevant opposition? I find an emergency hatch and defeat another ancient lich while standing on it, ready to escape if things go badly. Then an orb guardian shows up, which means I must be close to the entrance to the orb chambers. I don’t have to use this hatch, and my exploration continues. Indeed, there is the entrance, and that concludes my initial foray into Zot 5. But should it? Having to fight two orbs of fire, at least four electric golems and six ancient liches outside the orb chamber can only mean one thing: There must be one or two irresistibly placed permanent teleportation traps inside the chambers, which brought all these baddies my way. If this is true, there should not be much left in there that I need to be afraid of. I’m revising my decision to not brave the chambers now. I will go in, but first I need to return to the Lair for some preparation. I pick up the amulet of stasis that I left there, and replace my buckler of poison resistance with a +2 shield, which brings me up to 15 SH. This may not sound much, but with the new SH calculations of version 0.15 it is actually quite impressive. Together with my current 16 AC I feel now actually quite well protected, although this may be a bit of a delusion, because, as far as I know, I have zero guaranteed damage reduction (GDR). But I have to pay the price of not having any poison resistance now, and I don’t really want to carry along my staff of poison just to swap to it when a green draconian shows up. Well, I do it anyay, as there won’t be much loot in the orb chambers for which I need to reserve any inventory slots.

Back to Zot 5 and the entrance to the chambers of the orb. Well, while I was gone, the outer area has re-populated again, lots of draconians and another ancient lich. Fighting them gets me down to half HP and almost zero MP. This is the moment my third orb of fire decides to show up. This time I conclude that retreating is in order, as the escape hatch is not too far away. I make it there, with the orb in literally hot pursuit, but once more it inexplicably fails to malmutate me. Refreshed, I go to the next downstairs to take on this sphere for real. There it is, and this time it means business. I lose two points of my already scarce intelligence in the ensuing fight, but in exchange I get two levels of spikes for one of my tentacles, to improve my melee abilities. It’s just that I don’t really intend to do much melee fighting in the future. Well, I still have 28 INT left, and that will have to do for a while. I won’t spend a potion of cure mutation on that alone.

Peeking into the chambers, I attract two orb guardians. Trying out my new melee abilities on these supposedly weak creatures, I quickly find out that I shouldn’t do that. In the resulting inopportune moment of very low health a gold dragon shows up, and all I can do to not die is give myself one zap after another of my wand of heal wounds, until it is empty. Only then I manage to shoot the dragon. In the aftermath it takes me four scrolls of recharging to get this wand up to 9 charges again, which I find scandalous. Lesson learned: No more unnecessary meleeing, certainly not with orb guardians. They do hit hard.

Another ancient lich comes out of the chamber. They must have a convention these days on Zot 5, in the numbers in which they show up. In the old days I always wet my pants meeting one of these bone bags, but killing one now seems to be commonplace in this game. More guardians in the first chamber, and now I wisely engange them from as far away as possible. Here is one permanent teleport trap, but not really placed in a way that you have to step into it. There must be more in a better place. I put on my amulet of stasis, just in case I don’t see those in time.

Indeed, the western ante-chamber is almost devoid of opposition. The eastern chamber, however, has a gang of draconians, who have to step over a Zot trap to get at me. I will have to go all the way round past the orb chamber to clear that room. But first another detour is in order, as one of the stupid draconians stepping into the trap manages to send me on my first long delayed trip to the Abyss. Thanks. I have no intention of staying here any longer than it takes to find the exit, before I get mutated any more, or, worse, die.

Abyss 1 is supposed to be an easy level. Why, then, do I have to meet another ancient lich right away? I do perceive something of an inflationary use of them. At least I find some useful loot, such as another potion of cancellation, a scroll of enchant armour, and a scroll of enchant weapon. What about an amulet of resist mutation, for a welcome change? There it happens: A neqoxec dodges three magma bolts without getting harmed, and while I strangle it, it gives me the misshapen body malmutation and the urge to shout. Oddly enough, these two mutations don’t bother me in the least. My body is already as misshapen as a body can be (the mutation has therefore no negative impact on my AC), and as soon as I’m done with Zot 5 I will convert to TSO, and an occasional yell out of holy zeal won’t affect my game-play at all. But first to get out of here. Hundreds of turns and countless high-level enemies later I finally find an exit. Back to work in Zot 5.

I take care of the draconian juvenile delinquents by unleashing a tornado and then retreat to a safe area to catch my breath. I start approaching the orb on the open western route. In the inner ante-chamber I encounter a fourth orb of fire, but in this open space it does not stand a chance against my orbs of destruction. I’m also surprised to find out how gratifyingly effective it is to hit an orb with airstrike, while your own orb is still in the air. Once more, my genome has not suffered from this encounter. Inching closer to the innermost chamber, hosts of orb guardians file out, but they are kind enough to line themselves up for my fire and magma bolts. There! I can see the orb, but it is still defended by more guardians. With them out of the way, I now stand right on top of the orb, caressing it with my tentacles. The game could end here and now – I’m sure I could make it up to D1 without trouble from here. But I’m too ambitious to let it stop here. With a sigh, I continue my long walk around the orb chambers. I stumble into a crystal statue, which immediately shaves off another 3 of my scarce INT points. Why does everyone have to go for the very thing I need most? A few more draconians, and all the orb chambers are clear. I’m looking now at that Zot trap from the other side. There is quite a pile of gold sitting on it, but since I did not bother to learn apportation, I have to let that one go. I can afford it, with already 6800 gold pieces in my account. Hmm, I did not really see the teleportation traps I expected to find in the chambers. Only one in the first chamber, and another near the orb, but none really shouting ‘step right here’. So I wonder why so many bad guys showed up outside the chambers, and comparatively few inside. Be that as it may, I have accomplished my first mission, and it is now time to switch religion.

Vital statistics update: My INT has taken a nosedive to 25, but three of these points will come back on their own. I will neither waste a potion of restore abilities nor a potion of cure mutation to make these come up, as I don’t need to be that smart where I’m going next. STR and DEX are unchanged at 11 and 16. The more interesting figures are now my skills. My highest skill is spellcasting, almost at 24, followed by air, fire and conjurations at 20 each. Fighting is now at 19, and all the other skills where I reported them last. Now this means that Tornado, even at my horrendously low intelligence, is now at 3%, which is good enough. Trouble is, this number will bounce up somewhat when I’m doing my next move, becoming an apostate.


I ascend all the way to the temple, heading straight for the altar of the The Shining One. A short prayer of conversion, and the deed is done. This little thing, for now at least, has cost me access to the spell Lehudib’s Crystal Spear, which I have every intention of learning later, and that may only be a mild consequence compared to what is to come over the next few thousand moves. Just as a reality check, a prayer at Vehumet’s altar reveals that he is “annoyed with me”. I guess that puts it mildly. I now have to make it through the difficult time of Vehumet’s divine retribution. This means that every now and then he will hit me with something nasty, like a fire storm, a burst of hell-fire, some bad earth-magic I have no armour to absorb. Whenever I cast a conjurations spell (and I hardly cast anything else), there is a 5% chance of this happening, but it could also happen without trigger. The good news is that each of these punishments moves a counter slowly down to zero. I expect that not long after I reach full piety with TSO, Vehumet’s wrath should peter out. The best place to sit out this wrath is the Crypt, which at this stage of my development should not present any too serious challenges. At least not in itself. But I will take damage in the Crypt, and being then hit by hellfire could easily end the game right there.

I take along a +3 morningstar of holy wrath which I found in the treasure vaults of Elves 3. I intend to use conjurations whenever it seems safe, but when I have to finish off some skeletons with my health already uncomfortably low, swinging a weapon appears to be a way to not provoke another, potentially fatal, punishment by Vehumet. I will not use Tornado, except in dire emergencies, as it is now at 9% failure rate without Vehumet’s support.

A freezing wraith is the first opponent on Crypt 1 that counts towards my piety with TSO. I have decided not to train invocations. For what I want from TSO, this skill is not needed. His active benefits, which depend on this skill, will later actually be more of a liability, so I will never bother my new deity with anything that he doesn’t give me voluntarily. Just after a few more kills TSO already grants me his first star, which means that I will now receive HP and MP on killing evil creatures, and I have a growing aura around me, which in effect means that I can now see invisible (at least as far as this aura reaches, which is full LOS at full piety.

On clearing the first floor of the Crypt, I am still at 1 star. More importantly, however, I have not seen Vehumet inflicting any punishment on me. This is not as good as it sounds, because it means that my divine retribution counter does not go down, and I will have to face Vehumet’s wrath in more dangerous places. But I should not even underestimate this one. At one point I get surrounded by ghouls and necrophages, who rot me and get my health down fast. I need to haste myself and escape to the next upstairs to survive. Having escaped badly mauled, Vehumet sends me a crystal spear (with love), and that leaves me with just four HP to each tentacle. Definitely, I am now at the center of my old deity’s attention.

Another thing to get used to while worshiping TSO is that I cannot always kill an enemy when I see one. A deep elf death mage turns a corner without spotting me. As long as he is not aware of my presence, he is off-limits to me. So I wait a turn, which is enough for him to notice me and call up a lost soul. But, just like in this case, I have never found these little delays to be particularly troublesome – the monster usually just dies a turn later. The game warns me before I do something I shouldn’t, so there is no danger of incurring TSO’s wrath inadvertently. In the late game these things rarely happen anyway. It needs to be a sentient, non-demonic creature to trigger this behavior. TSO is just as happy as I am when I blast away a napping skeleton or demon.

Ouch, that hurts! Vehumet decided to hurl a bolt of cold at me which brings my HP down from 192 to only 86. And this one came totally out of the blue. Had that happened during a fight, it would have been curtains to this diary. I guess I need to remove some of those rings of fire, as this could happen anytime again. Sigh. With one ring left, and one ring of cold resistance to balance it, I am now at F+ and no cold susceptibility. Frederick comes along. What is he doing down here? Well, even without all those rings of fire, I still have enough options to get my fire magic up to 9#, as he finds out to his detriment. C2 appears to be a lot more populated than C1, which is good for my piety and also for my retribution counter. I descend into C3 with 3 TSO stars, and quite an impressive halo. I can now safely remove my ring of see invisible.

C3 has the spooky forest layout, with the gothic cathedral in the middle, hopefully full of exciting loot! But first I need to reclaim this place for the realm of The Shining One! Without even exploring much, the fourth star is awarded to me. Slowly TSO’s HP and MP restoration begins to make a difference. I first explore the forest around the cathedral, and there at a lake I see the first curse skull of the game. Mercifully, they now remain stationary in version 0.15, which gives me time to torch away some of the forest around it, so I get a clear shot for my orb of destruction. Ha, you did not expect that level of careful preparation, did you, Bones? He is blown away. A second skull near the lake shares the same fate, in the same entirely satisfying manner.

A little structure in the forest contains some treasure guarded by spiders. I grab my staff of poison for the resistance it grants, but I need to be careful not to hit anything with it, as TSO would not approve. Well, it is also good for eating the spider corpses in this environment which is almost devoid of edible chunks. Next on the map is a graveyard surrounded by forest. I remember this place to be crawling with high-end undead monsters, even mummies. I therefore approach it carefully, if possible always attracting the attention of just a few inhabitants. Well, this time it is only zombies, plenty of them, but I can handle them easily. South of the graveyard is a structure with locked doors – that could be entrance to the Tomb, but I won’t peek in there right now.

Uh, oh, Sojobo and his cool gang await me at the other side of the graveyard. Shiny and yelling as I am, they have of course spotted me and pursue me over the graveyard. But I have a surprise for them. I blink right into their midst and unleash a Tornado. Right at that moment Vehumet throws in a big explosion, which harms Sojobo and his friends more than me. His pals die quickly, but Sojobo can take a lot of abuse, so I work on him with bolt of magma, while he and some air elementals have their go at me. I’m already bleeding from many wounds when Vehumet throws in another blast. This one kills Sojobo (wait, this one’s on me!) and the air elementals. I survive the fight with just over 60 HP, and let the Tornado do the rest on the survivors. No more conjurations on my part until I’m healed!

Having done a complete circle around the map, I am now going inwards. I’m entering the cathedral through the back-entrance from the southern end. But there are just small treasure vaults. I guess I have to come round to the main entrance. This gives me an opportunity to investigate the structure near the graveyard. As I suspected, it is the entrance to the Tomb, and houses a few high-level mummies (but no greater mummy, fortunately). Now all that’s left on this level is the cathedral. As often happens with this kind of building, it has many twisted corridors and rooms you have to look twice to find them. An ancient lich resides here, but by now I have learned not to fear those anymore. On reaching the main treasure chamber, TSO awards me his sixth and final star. I have finished my apprenticeship in his service, which means I get now the maximum restoration for HP and MP, have see invisible for the full LOS, and have N+++. I also now have the right to bless a weapon on TSO’s altar, but sadly I don’t have a suitable weapon to do this. I’d like a demon whip for that purpose, but in spite of all the hell knights I had earlier slain in the Depths and elsewhere, a demon whip was never generated. The loot in the Crypt, as usual, leaves me short of my most coveted items – such a whip, the Book of Annihilations, and an amulet of resist mutation.

I have also not gained that much experience in the Crypt. My failure rate for tornado appears to be glued to the 9% I reported much earlier, although my INT has reached its current maximum of 28 some time ago. I pay a short visit to the temple to see where I stand with Vehumet. He “well remembers your sins” I learn, which means that there is still some divine retribution to expect from him. Regardless, I now have to brave the Vestibule of Hell. Some swapping of equipment (another ring of wizardry for the ring of N+ that I don’t need anymore) gets my Tornado down to 5%, and I now have two potions of brilliance to make it even better. Geryon, here I come!

Reaching the next entrance to hell on Depths 1, I drink a potion of brilliance, cast ring of flames, channel the energy back to max, equip my staff of air, and go down. My Tornado is now at 1%. Geryon is right there, with three hell knights (none of them carrying a demon whip, of course), and some necromancers. The first Tornado unfolds, and the minor minions go down fast, healing me in the process and restoring my energy. Each turn I throw something at Geryon, and he rolls over on the fourth turn. That went fast. But now all the others are coming out of their holes somewhere on the level, and since they are more spread out, it will be more difficult to hit all of them fast. Some of them I can deal with, but then I need to go upstairs to recharge. The next foray goes similarly, and I need to go down a third time. Then the place is finally mine. There is still some mopping up to be done, of course. This vestibule layout is copiously built up and obstructed with columns and other architectural elements. Quite pretty, but very much in the way when you want to build up an organized stash.

While cleaning out the area around the entrance to Dis, a balrug shows up. Not necessarily good news, as he grinds down my health considerably. But he does drop a +3 demon whip. TSO has an altar right next door on Dungeon 15, and presto, my +5 sacred scourge is ready! I do hope to use it wisely. The next few hundred turns it is the tedious process of ferrying goodies from one stash to the other, and to get things organized in the Vestibule. Not much to write home about in this diary. But somewhere in all this comes the final punishment by Vehumet. He is now mollified with me, and I don’t have to fear him any longer. My period of apostasy is over. That wasn’t too long, was it?

An early Ziggurat

Now, what’s next? I still have that scroll of acquirement, and now is the time to see if it gives me my Book of Annihilations. It doesn’t, just an artifact volume with lower level conjurations. Also, I’m still short of a source of resist mutations. All the obvious places I could go now, such as the Abyss, the Slime Pits or the Pandemonium, are quite mutagenic, so I should avoid these for now. The various hells are not necessarily mutagenic, but they are not advisable for other reasons. I really should know Fire Storm before going there, and should be generally stronger. The same is true for the Tomb. That leaves only a Ziggurat for me, and the only one so far available is the guaranteed Ziggurat from the Depths. I’m sure I can easily navigate the first dozen levels or so, but am I strong enough for going deeper, even all the way? At least the Ziggurat gives me a reasonable chance of finding what I need in the other places. So this is what I do now. I learn blink and forget Mephitic Cloud. I load up on anything I may need in the Ziggurat: Potions of healing, curing, cure mutations, restore abilities, magic, cancellation, speed. Scrolls of blinking, teleportation, holy word, immolation, identification, recharging, remove curse. A wand each of cold, fire, fireball, lightning, healing, hasting. Most of my good jewelery – much of which is still standard, and I am prepared to drop things if I find better artifact items. All my 26 meat rations. Staff of air, fire, energy, a phial of floods, and my new sacred scourge, now enchanted all the way up to +9. All that leaves 13 open slots, which I hope will soon be filled by the Book of Annihilations, more good jewelery, and some source of mutation resistance. And I also hope that I will be much stronger when I come back. If I come back. Off I go.

To make it into the Ziggurat, I first have to unleash two angels guarding it behind an iron grate. Two of them I can always handle. Let’s hope I’ll never see tons of them at once. The first Ziggurat level just has two guardian mummies, easily dealt with. Level 2 features a few low-level demons. Level 3 is stepping it up a little, with three fire dragons and an efreet. But so far the loot is not noteworthy. But level four, which has me kill some chaotic monsters, proves to be the first goldmine: An unidentified amulet is the coveted amulet of resist mutation. Better late than never.

Level 5 has another ancient lich and his minions. There is a useless book and an artifact ring, providing +9 MP and N+. It does not add anything to what I have already, so I ignore it. On level 6 I get my first decent beating through a combination of ancient lich and ghoul, who manages to rot me for a few points. Now here is a decent artifact ring: -tele, but Fire, STR +2 and Slay +4. I just have to remember to put it off when I need to blink. I exchange it for the ring of fire I am still wearing. Level 7 has a mixed bag of monsters, of course including another ancient lich. A very massive central structure badly inhibits the unfolding of my Tornado, so things again become a little dicey. I have no MP left when I am done with all the opposition, but at least I am still standing. The loot here is not noteworthy.

Level 8 of the Ziggurat is a model case of why I converted to TSO to do this. There is a huge host of undead and demons, among them a hellion, who keeps throwing hellfire at me. I shrug it off, unleash a Tornado and start walking right through the crowd. When the Tornado fizzles out, everything around me is destroyed, and both my MP and HP are at maximum. I didn’t even have to break a sweat. Well, the loot continues to be disappointing. Not a single potion of experience yet, nor a potion of cure mutation. Level 9 is a bit more challenging, with my first demon lord, supported by a force of level 1 and level 2 demons. A cacodemon makes me happy that I am now resistant to mutation. I am not resistant to poison, however, and that green death gets my health way down before HP restoration kicks in. At least I get my potion of experience now, and I use it exclusively to get my air magic to level 22. An artifact ring gives C+, N+ and MR+. That will do in exchange for my ring of cold resistance. I decide it is now time to extend my skills training again, adding shields, dodging, evocations and maces & flails to my lecture schedule. The deeper levels of a Ziggurat are full of experience to be gained, so these skills should level up increasingly fast.

Level 10 instead has no evil monsters whatsoever – just air-themed opponents: spriggan air mages, titans, electric golems, shock serpents, air elementals, and a school of oklob plants as a central structure. I decide to start a Tornado anyway, and that gets the whole opposition down just the same, with two or three magma bolts for the air elementals. Otherwise I find an amulet of guardian spirit (no thanks!), and the first regular ring of intelligence, +2. I could certainly use that. I find that wearing it has the same effect as the second ring of wizardry I’m still having with me, so I’m making that exchange, as intelligence certainly has the wider application. Level 11 has undead and demons again, and those are certainly my favorite levels. One tornado, I’m done.

Level 12 again has undead and demons, but now enemies are becoming more numerous, and the layout bigger. I need two tornados to make it through this time. At the end waits a potion of cure mutation (now I have four), and my first amulet of the gourmand. I would have liked to find that a lot earlier, as I don’t think I will live much off chunks anymore. In some sense it was better not to have it, because its characteristics make it difficult to take off once you are wearing it. So I always had the benefit of some other amulet up till now. Let’s keep it that way.

Level 13 has undead and demons once more. Let’s get to work. I have somewhat of a bad start, as I miscast ring of flames, and four hellions and balrugs blast me with hellfire, assisted by a flayed ghost, who gets my HP down way too fast. I get my Tornado going quickly, and then pop one potion of heal wounds after another. I survive, and the crisis seems over when the flayed ghost finally succumbs to the strong winds. But then the Tornado has run it’s course, and there are those two or three turns between Tornados when you can’t do much. Now would be an excellent time to let loose a fire storm. I just don’t have one. I try to take pot shots at the balrugs in the second row, but to no avail. Finally I can cast another Tornado. My HP is down to 14 again, and I need to make a decision. Do I drink another potion of healing? I decide for another shot, this time at the shadow fiend right next to me. Wrong decision.

Aiming: Bolt of Magma

Aim: a Shadow Fiend (flame, severely wounded, summoned, haloed)

You feel a surge of power!

The bolt of magma hits the Shadow Fiend.

The Shadow Fiend is almost dead.

You kill the hell hound!

The Shining One accepts your kill.

You feel your power returning.

You kill the Shadow Fiend! You kill the tormentor!

The sphinx skeleton is engulfed in roaring flames.

The sphinx skeleton hits you!


The sphinx skeleton misses you. The sphinx skeleton hits you.


The titan skeleton is engulfed in roaring flames.

The titan skeleton hits you!!

You die...

You could see a Hell Sentinel, a lich, 2 balrugs, a golden dragon zombie, a titan zombie, a sphinx skeleton, a spriggan skeleton and a titan skeleton.


Maybe that potion of heal wounds would have saved me, maybe not. I do know that a Firestorm would have saved me, and I am stark raving mad that Vehumet did not give it to me. That’s why I chose Vehumet in the first place!

In any case, I hope to have shown that the combination of Blaster and TSO in the end-game has tremendous potential. I know that there are other situations from which such a character, even with fire storm available, has difficulties to escape from alive, but this is true about any combination one can play. In the end, this diary did not lead to the miracle I was hoping for, but getting an Octopode that far was fun anyway. Now it is time for playing the official release of 0.15.