Mr. K's Many Characters
- 1 Introduction
- 2 DECj #1
- 3 DECj #2
- 4 DECj #3
- 5 DECj #4
- 5.1 D1-D8
- 5.2 Interlude
- 5.3 D9
- 5.4 Orcish Mines 1-2
- 5.5 D10-D11
- 5.6 Interlude
- 5.7 The Hive
- 5.8 Orcish Mines 1-4
- 5.9 Interlude
- 5.10 D12-D13
- 5.11 The Lair 1-4
- 5.12 Interlude
- 5.13 Lair 4-5
- 5.14 The Labyrinth
- 5.15 Lair 5-8
- 5.16 Interlude
- 5.17 Cleaning up
- 5.18 The Swamp 1-5
- 5.19 Interlude
- 5.20 Slime Pits
- 5.21 D14-D16, bazaar!
- 5.22 Interlude
- 5.23 Revenge of the Slime Pits
- 5.24 Epilogue
I've been playing Dungeon Crawl on and off for a couple of years now, and although I've found a few runes in my time I've never managed to ascend with any of my characters. If I remember correctly my best characters were a Deep Elf Conjurer who managed to clear the Mines, the Lair, the Snake Pit, the Hive, and most of the Elven Halls and the Vault. That means I'm still finding new stuff every time I play! I'm far from a know-it-all pro.
These days, I've got a hankering for spellcasters, and so will try to chronicle my attempts at finding the elusive Orb of Zot.
Caveat: I started posting the morgues for each character, but they ended up taking a lot of space, so I won't bother anymore. They're not that interesting anyway.
I'm a fan of Deep Elves. Sure, they're a bit fragile and terrible at fighting, but they more than make up for this with a knack for any and all magical schools (including an amazing skill of 50 for Enchantments!). If you want to play a jack-of-all trades spellcaster they're pretty good, and usually easier to get off the ground than Vampires or Mummies, who might be better in the long run but lack the Deep Elves' knack for magic.
I exit the entrance chamber on D1 to find two goblins; one of them, after being "persuaded" with Magic Dart, helpfully drops a runed dagger. It turns out to be a dagger of speed! It comes in handy when I turn a corner and find myself face to face with three jackals and a MP capacity of 4. At 1 MP per Magic Dart, I injure the first jackal and have to finish off the whole pack with my lightning-fast stabbing skills. Too bad I plan on following Cheibriados. On the plus side, I'm already level 2, so I learn Throw Flame. I won't use it until I've got Magic Dart's power maxed out though. The rest of D1 is uneventful; I find and put on a cursed pair of +0 boots, which will make it easy to identify scroll of remove curse.
I find a +1 robe on D2 and, a bit later, round a corner and catch a glimpse of Ijyb. I creep back into the shadows and find another path to explore; I'm too weak to confront the little bastard yet. Oh, look, an altar of Vehumet! Tempting. Still, I'll hold off for Chei. My Conjurations skill reaches level 6 so I turn it off: Magic Dart's power is maxed out now, so I need to work on Spellcasting (to reduce the hunger cost of my spells) and Fire Magic (to boost Throw Flame, my next nuke). Onwards!
Right at the start of D3 I run into an imp. Hate the little regenerating, blink-spamming buggers. Magic Dart rolls in my favour, though, and I make short work of it, earning a significant chunk of XP at this point. After a bit of a rough spot where I nearly starved, my meat stocks are replenished, so I start using Throw Flame to practice Fire Magic even though it still has a slight hunger cost. A few snakes later, I'm level 5, add Conjure Flame and Stone Arrow to my repertoire, and think about moving on... except I realize I've only seen two staircases leading up. Hmmm. I backtrack to D2 and find the third staircase down. Oh wait, I missed a tiny corner of the level. Heh.
Setting foot into D4, I am greeted by two angels guarding the entrance to a ziggurat. I peruse my pockets: my meager 157 gold is a wee bit short of the 4210 entrance fee. Oh well! The level is of the "donut" variety (a large square with a hole in the middle) which I hate due to its openness and since Conjure Flame is useless here. Fortunately, the toughest monsters on the level are orcs... if you ignore the demons surrounded by lava in a little alcove in the side of the "donut"'s hole, guarding an altar of Kikubaaqudgha. Can Magic Dart kill an orange demon? Let's find out later.
Another imp awaits me as I enter D5. To be safe, I lure it back upstairs and kill it so as to not alert any D5 monsters to my presence. Back to D5, down the corridor an antique weapon shop sells a crystal crossbow (too bad) and a runed demon blade. Where are the spellbooks, goddamnit? I start exploring in a spiral, duck back into a side passage after peeking a necrophage, and stumble upon the Temple. Yay! Cheibriados is on my side, and my +1 robe starts to slow down my step. I drop some of my items here as a temporary stash. After clearing the level, I remember about Ijyb on D2; my Fire Magic skill is high enough that I can use Throw Flame to kill him. And kill him I do. Enough to earn my first Piety star with Chei. Slower metabolism, +1 to all stats, and rN+. Onwards!
Upon entering D6 I find myself in a small room with 3 orcs (one of which is standing next to me with a bardiche!), a quokka, and a worm zombie. None of them have detected me. Usually, I'd play it safe and retreat to the level above to try another staircase, but in the corner of this very same room is another staircase leading up. This means I have a 50% chance of returning to the same room, perhaps not undetected this time. Gritting my teeth, I start flinging fire around, killing two of the orcs (including the bardiche-wielding one) then run away to D5 before the rest can catch me. Let's try another staircase... Same room, but all the monsters are now on the other side. Fiery death for all! This is a good time to start identifying scrolls. While I'm going through the bigger stacks -- identify, remove curse, enchant weapon II -- I read a scroll of noise. Oops! A hound and a giant frog zombie show up to investigate, followed by an ogre, which I all dispatch with ease. By now my Fire Magic skill has caught up with Conjurations, and my Spellcasting is to the point where I can cast Conjure Flame and Stone Arrow with no hunger cost. Since I have three scrolls of remove curse I decide to try the two unidentified rings I've picked up in my travels. One of them is a cursed -2 ring of evasion and the other doesn't identify. I've picked up my fair share of weapons and armour by now so I start trying them on, because if any of them turn out to be cursed, it's no big deal, since I'm about to burn a scroll of remove curse anyway. And it's good that I do, because I find a +3 orcish leather of magic resistance. Not bad! A good target for Make Ponderous. I also switch from my dagger of speed, which Chei dislikes, to a normal dagger. I gain my second Piety star clearing the rest of the level and make my formerly cursed boots ponderous for a +3 bonus to all stats, cold resistance, and the ability to cast Bend Time. This is getting solid!
Some gnolls drop by to say hi as I set foot in D7. By now they're no threat, and I dispatch all three to claim my spoils, a +1 cloak ready to be made ponderous when I reach my third Piety star... which I do shortly, after killing more gnolls, orcs, giant ants, and assorted monsters. The level is perfect for Conjure Flame, full of long corridors where I can block and line up enemies to kill them with Throw Flame. One of my nicer acquisitions is a wand of cold, since it shores up one of my weaknesses.
At first sight, it looks like D8 is yet another "donut" level, and the welcoming party of orcs is not endearing either. But hey, no priests at least! Chei's resistances come in handy for dealing with the wizards. After I head out to explore, however, I realize this level isn't donut-shaped, but a cross -- not much better by my standards, at least until I happen upon a +5, +3 flaming sabre of Expedience with +3 AC. Bye bye dagger! Although I earn my fourth Piety star clearing the level, I haven't found gloves or a hat yet. Curses. At least now I can cast Slouch. The wand of cold helps to deal with an orc warrior, the only challenging monster on this level.
I'm encumbered, so I return to the Temple to drop off what I don't need, like a wand of fire and my extra permafood; I've been extremely lucky so far and have survived solely on chunks of meat. By now, my main worries are that I haven't found poison resistance and see invisible yet. The Lair is doable without the former, but it's preferable, and it sure helps when you can jump straight into the Snake Pit. The latter is what doomed my previous DECj, who died to an unseen horror even though he had a wand of digging and Bolt of Magma. Why am I not playing a vampire?
A bit of housekeeping before returning to the dungeon. First, I memorize Fireball, and can already cast it at a Good success rate. Combined with Bolt of Magma this should take care of the tougher opponents I encounter. Second, I read a scroll of identify and am blessed with a triple: I identify my one good ring (sustain abilities, nice) and my two largest stacks of potions, which turn out to be paralysis (aww) and heal wounds (yay). I haven't discovered healing yet but have several candidates that I keep on hand. Third, I burn a scroll of detect curse, then start trying all the weapons I've collected. I come up with a dagger of draining, a whip of venom, and a mace of protection -- nothing that'll replace my artefact saber yet.
By now, I have 397 gold, but the only shops I've found are antique weapons and food. I could buy that artefact crossbow hoping to find a nice resistance or bonus on it... but I'll save my cash for now. Maybe a bookstore is around the corner!
D9 begins with an irate iguana and a wyvern zombie. The iguana's no sweat, but that zombie can hurt, so I retreat and try another staircase down. This time I see a slave, and I just know that means Pikel's around the corner. Damn. Let's see what staircase #3 has to offer. A nice, narrow, and empty corridor... perfect! As fate would have it I turn the corner and run into a live wyvern, so I use Conjure Flame and nuke it with a couple of Bolts of Magma. After a bit of exploring (which includes encountering and re-killing the wyvern zombie) I notice Grum. I back off slowly, since he's accompanied by a couple of war dogs and would probably give me a run for my money, being in an open area that'd lead to me being surrounded. From bad to worse, the corridor I pick brings me face to face with a steam dragon. Thank god for that wand of cold. With the XP I've accumulated I start working on my Earth Magic via Stone Arrow. When I go back to Grum, it's from a good angle and a slew of Bolts of Magma with his name on them. Lining up monsters and letting Bolts of Magma kill an entire row of them is one of life's little pleasures. I decide to leave Pikel for another day and head downstairs. Still no entrance to the Mines or the Lair...
I step into D10 with a sense of foreboding. This is where the monsters begin to get tough. And what do you know, near my staircase I see Harold and an orc warrior napping. I retreat and try the second staircase. It lands me on the other side of the orc group, but far enough that I can pick off the normal orcs and a few wizards and priests. I don't have access to the third staircase, sadly, since it seems Pikel is guarding it, so I'll have to go from here. I go back up to regenerate, send a few more orcs (including two priests) to Beogh, and am about to continue when Harold wanders in! I retreat but he still has the time to flick a bolt of fire at me. Ouch. Let's see if we can't make use of that narrow passage between the two staircases. When I enter from the first staircase, an imp is accompanying Harold this time, but neither ends up being a match for Bolt of Magma and Stone Arrow, netting me a cool ~1400 XP. Now's as good a time as ever to start training Invocations! I improve my skill to level 4, losing two Piety stars in the process, but this leaves me with three, which is the exact number of ponderous armour pieces I'm wearing anyway, and how many I need to cast Slouch. I then resume exploring the level, killing more orcs, slimes, and even a kodomo dragon. Oh, lookit that, an antique armour shop! Most notable among its wares are a chain mail of poison resistance and a swamp dragon armour, both of which would provide poison resistance. Can't afford either yet. Not to worry, though, because I soon stumble on the Ring of Robustness. I'm sitting pretty at 20 AC and 13 EV. Not bad for a level 10 caster! To cap it all off (as if this level hasn't been nice enough to me yet) I find a Book of Wizardry. I'll save it for later.
My entry into D11 is a little scary. I land close to Joseph, who seems to be accompanied by a veritable zoo: snake, scorpion, giant ant, iguana, and ice beast! Must mean the Lair is close. The level has glass walls with lava outside: if I remember correctly, those are cross-shaped too, so I kill what I can here (the ice beast, the snake, and the ant) before returning to D10 and trying a second staircase. Before I can do so I look at the message log, however, and find those two dreaded lines I so hate seeing:
Helpless, you fail to dodge its attack. It hits you! Deactivating autopickup; reactivate with Ctrl-A.
I consider myself damn lucky the unseen horror didn't follow me. But without a way to see invisible, I don't have a choice, I have to try to skip the level. The second staircase leads to me a very close call: it takes me almost to the same spot, close enough that Joseph, the iguana, the scorpion, and the unseen horror all see me and start running towards me! I figure I have time to kill the iguana and do so. However, this time, when I run back up, the horror follows me and rips me for half my health. Ouch! I run back down... and, thank god, it doesn't follow me. Although now I'm faced with an angry Joseph and a scorpion, both way inside my comfort zone. It takes four Bolts of Magma to bring down Joseph, and a fifth for the scorpion, but hey, I'm alive with 12 HPs and no MP! Wait, does Slouch work on invisible monsters? ... Now's as good a time to find out as ever, I figure: I heal up and head upstairs, but the unseen horror is gone, and even after shouting for attention it stays away. Oh well. Descending, I find the third staircase from D10, and I take it to mark it as used. Guess who welcomes me? That's right! And Slouch kills it in a single cast! Well, isn't that one useful bit of info for next time!
I return to D11 full of good cheer... only to take ten steps and fall down a shaft.
Oh my. This isn't how I envisioned my entrance to D14 (yep, I skipped D12 and D13 in my fall!). Certainly not through a shaft, and definitely not in the same screen as a wraith, a centaur, an ice beast, a polar bear, a gnoll, and a six-headed hydra. Time to put that Slouch to good use again -- let's hope my Piety holds up long enough for me to clear the screen. Nope, I only get one cast off before I'm downgraded to a Splendid Chronographer of Cheibriados who's not pious enough for Slouch. This is not good. Oh, and a white imp's been attracted by the noise, it seems. By now I still haven't identified scrolls of teleportation, and I have five unknown scrolls in my possession, which is way too risky to start playing reading roulette. I do have a couple of wands of disintegration and my wand of cold, along with 24 MP, enough for five Bolts of Magma. The Wraith is the closest and eats the first Bolt: it's almost destroyed. A second Bolt does not kill it. Oh, look, a centaur warrior and a cyclops joining in. Right. The wraith and ice beast go down after two more Bolts; the original centaur's pelting me with arrows; and the hydra is now a single square away. Two more Bolts for the hydra don't kill it, and I am buried under an avalanche of rocks, arrows, and furious biting from both the polar bear and the hydra. Death comes swiftly.
This game is a perfect example of how unlucky I am in Crawl. After verifying in the morgue, I hadn't found a single scroll of teleportation the entire time, and so even if I'd carefully identified every single scroll type I'd come across, I couldn't have escaped that death trap I fell into -- just as my Piety had taken a slight dip, preventing me from spamming my most powerful ability and the only tool that could have gotten me out of it! Bit of a slap in the face if you ask me. I hate the deaths I couldn't have avoided, no matter what I'd done. Furthermore, if I'd found either the entrance to the Orcish Mines or the Lair before D11, I probably would have investigated them before delving any deeper in the dungeon, which might have saved me.
Lessons learned: Slouch hurts invisible monsters, and pretty much one-shots unseen horrors due to their speed. Must be more careful with Piety and training my Invocations skill next time. I hate shafts.
I feel original. Let's try this again, hoping that I have better luck, although I've technically had much worse: I've had two games where I spawned on D1 within striking distance of a hobgoblin with a weapon of draining. In a row.
D1 is rather uneventful. I have to avoid an ooze that hasn't noticed me almost right off the bat; with only 4 MP my chances of killing it before it gets in melee are slim. A goblin drops a boring dagger that I pick up for butchering. I meet few monsters, but enough that I can return to the ooze at level 2 and take it out without problem. Time to go.
I've found ten scrolls or so by the time I reach D2. I won't be caught without teleportation this time! I start to read through them: fog, something that's either enchant armour or recharging (I inscribe it so), identify, random uselessness... and two stacks that have no effect. Blegh. At least I'm surrounded by pretty butterflies. During my exploration I find a small stone corridor with a blue potion at the end. Running towards it, I... fall down a shaft.
Sigh. Here we go again. At least I'm on D3. I still expect an OOD Hill Giant or some such surprise. After dispatching a few rats and goblins, a surprise does come, in the form of a player ghost of mine, a weakling Deep Elf conjurer. It doesn't even have a religion so it can't be that strong, but neither am I yet: I'm still level 2 and my Throw Flame isn't nearly powerful enough to take him out. I have no wands or other items that could help me. It hasn't detected me yet so I'll try to sneak away. Whew. I duck into a side passage, which turns out to be a dead end with a staircase down. I wait a few turns hoping that the ghost has come and gone, then poke my head out. No more ghost! I carefully continue exploring until I step into a teleport trap that places me near a staircase up (yay) guarded by a giant iguana and Terence (ugh). If I try to make a break for the staircase, they'll probably both notice me and follow me to D2. I slink away in the shadows once more... only to bump into Sigmund. Goddamnit! I didn't know Hell was on D3. I tiptoe past the staircase I saw, and the giant iguana does come after me, but not Terence. A couple of Magic Darts later, I'm level 3, boost my Int by 1, learn Conjure Flame, and butcher some meat to feed my slight hunger. I kill several more iguanas, improve my Conjurations skill to 6 (turned off) and Spellcasting to 3, and even find a ring before, oh hallelujah, I come across an unguarded staircase leading up. Whatever doesn't kill me can only make me stronger.
Back to D2, I feel a lot safer knowing I'm out of the clutches of so many uniques and a ghost. I kinda want to try this ring on, but having just gotten out of trouble, I'd rather not fall back into it by putting on a cursed ring of teleportitis or some such. I'm reasonably sure one of the two stacks of scrolls that had no effect is remove curse, but would rather not risk it quite yet. I learn Conjure Flame, grab a second ring (very tempting now!) and clear out the entire level without any incident. I'm close to level 4. I go back down using the same staircase I took to escape from D3; I don't want to land next to Terence.
On my second trip to D3, I am worried first and foremost about that player ghost. I don't have a lot of health yet, and my Throw Flame is not powerful, so in a nuking contest it could very well best me. Perhaps level 4 will solve some problems. As I explore the level (staying away from Terence) I run across a kobold who flicks a curare-tipped needle at me. Ouch, poison! The first Magic Dart doesn't kill it, and the hobgoblin nearby is closing in. The second Magic Dart connects, killing the kobold, and I finally reach level 4 -- although poisoned and trying to fend off a club-swinging hobgoblin in my face. Two more Magic Darts kill it but I end up in dire straits. I had to use the single healing potion I found in an encounter with a snake on D2, so now, poisoned with 4 HP left, I have two choices: wait it out, or try potion roulette and hope for heal wounds. I have six different unidentified potions. Here goes nothing... A metallic inky potion partially covers my body in yellow scales (AC +2) and I suddenly feel pissed off. Interesting! A fizzy purple potion temporarily raises my agility. 3 HP. A sedimented red potion tastes like blood. A gluggy brown potion was... really gluggy. A gluggy black potion speeds me up. A blue potion is refreshing. 2 HP. Well, that's it. Nothing to do but wait and hope the poison leaves my system within the next 5 turns or so. But it doesn't, so I die.
Of course, one of those two rings had to be poison resistance. Of course. Not that equipping it after being poisoned would have done anything. That's what always happens. One game I get too aggressive and get burned; the next game, I'm more careful, and die because I don't take some risky course of action that could have saved me.
Lessons learned: nothing new this time, just plain old bad luck.
Third time's the charm?
Only D1, but already I'm off to a great start. I kill a few monsters to get to level 2, then encounter a pack of four gnolls that I manage to pull one at a time. I'm level 3 and I haven't explored half the level yet! Spellcasting is at 3 and Conjurations at 6 (turned off). I find a dwarven helmet, but no bladed weapon for butchering, so I head to the next level feeling very hungry.
I reach level 4 almost as soon as I enter D2. I stare ruefully at the corpses of a giant bat and a snake. Continuing my exploration, I run into Ijyb, who detects me right away. I empty 13 MP of Magic Darts into him to no avail: I only get him to moderately injured. Damnit. I run away to regen MP, Ijyb whacking at my shins as I do so, and turn around once I'm at 5 MP. Four Magic Darts later, I've got another nice chunk of XP and am a good bit closer to level 5. Near starving, though, so I gulp down some sultanas I picked up on D1. After killing a couple of oozes, however, I'm officially starving, so I have to eat my original bread ration to survive. I'm down to a meat ration. I finish exploring the level, finding some nice elven gloves, but still no butchering weapon. I only count two staircases up, so I backtrack to D1 and try the third staircase down. Finally, a dagger! Every single beast I've killed so far has left a body behind... In this section of the level I catch a glimpse of Terence. Are 14 max-power Magic Darts enough to take him down? I'll come back later. Except after taking a wrong turn, Terence does notice me and comes running for me! I've got Conjure Flame but it's not reliable, so let's see about them Magic Darts. Whew! I kill him with 1 MP to spare. After it's all said and done, I'm 15 XP away from level 5 as I head down.
D3 looks a bit empty... but soon I happen on what I call a "labyrinth" section, a large area where every other square is a wall, creating a grid you can only navigate diagonally. I kill a few beasts and retreat to explore the rest of the level first. But right away I bump into a player ghost -- again a Deep Elf Conjurer of mine, but this time he's average, not a weakling. Hmmm. I tiptoe away and instead decide to use my MP killing a group of orcs that get me to level 5. Throw Flame's got no hunger cost anymore, so it's time to train my Fire Magic! The first target I pick is an orc who chucks two spears at me, taking my health down to 10. Yeouch! I retreat to my stairs and wait to regenerate. As I do, I catch another glimpse of the ghost, so I head upstairs, in full flight, and decide to try my luck at another staircase down. This one takes me on the other side of the spear-throwing orc; I happen on a priest, who I pelt with Magic Darts until he keels over, leaving me with 38 XP to spend on Fire Magic. Oh, is that Sigmund walking around just behind that priest? Ruh-roh! I make a strategic retreat and explore the rest of the level, killing assorted monsters, finding a ring, and getting my Throw Flame some much-needed exercize. As I'm about to head downstairs (this is a somewhat dangerous level, after all), I again see those lines you never want to see:
Sigmund shouts! Sigmund casts a spell. Sigmund flickers and vanishes! Deactivating autopickup; reactivate with Ctrl-A.
Ugh. There is a narrow corridor behind me, though. Here's to hoping he can't confuse me! I cast Conjure Flame to block the way and escape to the nearest staircase down. I'll come back to this place later.
My first encounter in D4 is with an ogre. I start to pelt it from afar with Magic Darts, but right before it dies, the ogre falls down a shaft! Ha! Serves him well. Although that is a nice chunk of XP I've lost for now. Naturally, I entered a tiny part of the level, with only one staircase up, two staircases down, and a whopping three monsters. Ugh. I can't jump straight to D5, can I? Oh well. They say the devil you know and all that, but I'm going down.
Almost as soon as I start exploring D5 I find both of the other staircases leading up. Hurray! I pause long enough to nuke an imp back to Hell then head upstairs to continue exploring D4.
Sure enough, the Temple was on D4, in that other section I didn't have access to. Cheibriados, make me your avatar of ponderous destruction! I make my +1 dwarven helmet ponderous and resume exploration of the dungeon. I reach level 6 soon, and as I memorize Bolt of Magma, I hear numerous slurping noises. My loot, damnit! I hurry off to find the culprit and, when I do, blast the slime into tiny gooey bits. I've found the other two staircases leading back to D3, but hey, no rush. I'll finish D5 first.
My return to D5 (a small level, all things considered) goes without a hitch. The funniest encounter is with a couple of hobgoblins who jump at me after I open a door, wielding scythes. What, Sigmund wannabes? Neither of them has the time to harvest my head before meeting a fiery death. I also glimpse Prince Ribbit: feeling good about my Fire Magic, I decide to take a shot at him, which ends up being a pretty bad idea as he blinks next to me and kills me in two turns. Wow.
Again, not a single scroll of teleportation, bad luck with Prince Ribbit, and me being more aggressive due to my last game being too conservative killed me. I'm about ready to start worshipping Xom hoping the randomness will outweigh my shitty luck.
Lessons learned: Prince Ribbit is hardcore. I guess he's equivalent to a blink frog, which would make sense. Must be more careful with him.
So I tried playing a MDFi for a change and it got killed off on D2 by a snake. I'll take it as a sign that Cheibriados is not pleased with me trying something different.
I start D1 in a large chamber, and whichever direction I end up trying, I meet enemies! I take them down one by one from afar with Magic Dart and am rewarded with two rings, a shiny +1 dwarven helmet, and level 2 almost right away. Those rings sure are tempting, but I'll wait until I've accumulated a few more scrolls, improving my chances of finding either detect curse or remove curse.
D2 is rather uneventful until I run into a pack of gnolls, the leader of which is equipped with a spear of reaching! Ow. I kill him then retreat upstairs to find a better angle of attack. Although I'm level 3, Magic Dart isn't at full power yet, so the gnolls don't go down quite as easily as I wish they did, but I manage to isolate and kill off the remaining gnolls one by one. No sweat! I have enough scrolls now that I feel comfortable trying my rings on before descending. Sure enough, a runed iron ring turns out to be a cursed -2 Dex ring, and a granite ring doesn't identify. Hmmm.
I go down to D3 and kill off a giant gecko before trying my scrolls. Whaddyaknow, the first one turns out to be remove curse. And the second one turns out to be teleportation. Finally! I also find identify (my granite ring turns out to be a ring of protection from fire), enchant weapon I, and detect curse. A pretty good start. The rest of the level -- which has the same type of layout as D2, a multitude of small rooms interconnected by narrow passages -- goes by without anything interesting.
I am near starving as I step into D4. I start next to three rats, none of which leave bodies for butchering behind, though. Sigh... Once I do reach starvation I chow on an apple to stave off hunger for now. No need to lay into my rations just yet. Rat #4, still no body. Ditto for rat #5. And for rat #6, which wields a glowing great mace. Wait, that's not a rat! That's an ogre who walks up to me and takes me down to 1 HP in a single swing! Owwwwwwww. I kill it before it kills me, but barely: I'm down to 1 HP, 1 MP, and am now starving. I retreat to a corner to rest and munch on a choko, which takes me out of starvation for a whole twenty turns. I am finally forced to eat a bread ration to continue. I invest all my new XP into Fire Magic, which comes in real handy when I bump into another ogre; at least he never gets in melee range. I am level 6 with over 200 XP in the bank to spend on my skills.
My first foray into D5 is brief: I appear next to a kobold and within striking distance of a giant bat and a scorpion. I am not afraid of the first two, but the last could be dangerous, although I do have a stack of 6 metallic inky potions that look suspiciously like potions of healing. Still, better safe than sorry. The second staircase down leads me to a long, twisting passage that takes me back to the same general area; when I spot the scorpion (who spots me right back), I retreat, use Conjure Flame to block the way, and pelt him from afar with Magic Dart. Easy XP. And it was guarding a pair of elven gloves! Along with my helmet and cloak I am well-prepared for worshipping Chei. A few gnolls and a hound fall to Throw Flame's increasing power. Hmmm, I'm missing a staircase up. I return to D4 and try the third staircase. Sure enough, it takes me to a separate section of D5, in which I immediately see: a slime, a goblin, a hobgoblin, a kobold, two jackals, and three rats. Holy bejeesus! The slime is a few squares away so I decide to nuke it while the rats gnaw at my kneecaps. Two Throw Flames don't kill it, though, at which point I am surrounded by the jackals too. I retreat upstairs, kill off the rats and the jackals, then am forced to ponder options. Do I return downstairs after resting and try to kill off the rest? Or should I dive down to the next level and return later, hoping the monsters have wandered off? I'll go for the latter and annotate D5 to remember.
I don't see any monsters on D6 and soon find a staircase leading up. Oooh, to that other D5 section! Except now I'm in a maze of twisting corridors, perfect for Conjure Flame. The first enemy I meet isn't a slime, however, but a centaur. Without Repel Missiles nuking it is a bit of a risk but I'll take it. Arrows of dispersal fortunately don't send me anywhere. Aw shit, a player ghost! Looks like a previous DECj of mine. And a worshipper of Chei. But Conjure Flame comes to the rescue! By casting it and retreating past a corner, I force the ghost to stand in the flames, taking massive damage while I finish it with Throw Flame. Rest in peace, ponderous brother. I meet and kill the jelly later, then collect my prizes: another ring and a Book of Unlife. I'm encumbered, I hope I find the Temple soon.
Back to D6 I go. Why won't any rats leave corpses? Ah, thank you Mr. Snake. I find a rod, which bumps me from encumbered to officially overloaded. Ugh. Trying a scroll in a stack of three yields blinking and moves me back down to encumbered. Whew! Oh look a potion. Crap. I try another scroll in a stack of three: scroll of paper. Bye! I continue to wander, kill off an orc priest and an ogre, then spot some glowing green walls. Sweet! As I walk towards them and what I know to be entrance to the Temple, I glimpse Menkaure. I retreat to fill up my MP and prepare Throw Flame. Fire Magic has almost caught up to Conjurations so it's more than a match for him. And I have Conjure Flame, too, if needed. Bam, two Throw Flames, and he goes down, without any counterattack. As I step into the Temple I begin to starve and am again forced to resort to my bread rations. I hate dipping into my permafood stocks so early. Oh well. I join Chei's religion, drop off the things I don't need, identify my wand as disintegration (useful!), and read my one scroll of detect curse to see if any of the weapons or armour I've picked up are cursed. I try the rest on; none of the weapons have any brands, and my ring mail is only +1. It interferes with my spellcasting too much at this point, however, so I leave it in my stash and continue exploring the level. Right away I come upon a large pack of kobolds and big kobolds. Without Repel Missiles or poison resistance and being only level 8, these are still a bit of a threat, so I kill them off very carefully, one or two at a time, using Conjure Flame to buy myself breathing room. Despite my precautions I still get poisoned, but that's okay, that stack of seven potions did turn out to be potions of healing. The rest of the level is mostly empty and consists of me picking up all the loot.
D7 is another of those levels with a large "labyrinth" section. As always, I go around and clear the rest of the level first, picking off monsters who wander out of it and finding a dented emerald amulet. I have seven scrolls of identify... Oooh, warding, awesome. With a ring of life protection I found earlier I'm at rN++ already. The level plays host to not just one but two wand shops. Soon I earn my first Piety star; that slower metabolism didn't come a second too early. I've been flirting with starvation for the last couple of levels owing to a shortage of edible corspes. And I now have rN+++ too! Mwahaha. Oh hell yeah, a book shop! With both a Book of Wizardry and a Book of Fire! I'll probably jump into the Orcish Mines early to grab all that gold. I purchase a potion of heal wounds at a general shop to identify them: knowledge is power, yo. A second general shop (the fifth store on this level) also happens to sell a cursed -1, -2 whip "Guadual" with the freeze brand and poison resistance. That'll be a fine weapon until I find a staff or another source of poison resistance. All I have to do is burn a scroll of remove curse to make sure I can switch back to my dagger for butchering purposes. Onwards!
A quasit and a giant ant zombie greet me upon entering D8. The zombie goes down to Throw Flame, and the quasit to two Stone Arrows. That reminds me, I should start working on my Earth Magic. Soon after I meet Psyche; I've never found her to be much of a problem, but this one decides to spam a wand of confusion on me, forcing me to burn a potion of healing so I can nuke back. At least she's good XP. A couple of corridors later and I'm attacked by a war dog, which I take down easily... then another war dog... Hmmmm, this is starting to smell like Grum! And sure enough there he is. I use his recklessness against him and get him to stand in Conjure Flame while nuking with Throw Flame and he goes down like a chump. Ooh, a second Piety star! I decide to make my +0 elven gloves ponderous, for lack of a better alternative. The rest of the level is uneventful, save for a pack of bees, which don't scare me much anymore thanks to my whip.
I'm not encumbered quite yet, but I do realize I forgot to memorize Bolt of Magma and Fireball, so I make the trek back to the Temple, do so, and drop off more accumulated loot. I also switch from a +0 elven robe to a +0 elven leather armour. This game is starting to look solid: if I'm lucky enough to avoid random shafts and such surprises, I'm in for the long run.
Woah. I step into D9 surrounded by two orc priests, an orc warrior, a giant frog, a kobold, and a rat. Let's see if a quick Fireball can take down the priest and the warrior standing next to each other... Well, that's one less priest to worry about. The warrior is moderately injured, so I finish it with a Bolt of Magma before bolting upstairs, kobold and giant frog in tow. Killing them is no problem, and cleaning up what's left on D9 isn't either. Hmm. This level is very open, with small pools of water here and there, so I've got to be extra careful. I explore in a spiral around my original staircase to maximize the chances my line of retreat won't be cut off. Oh hey, the entrance to the Orcish Mines! Finally. Let's finish this level first. A giant beetle I encounter in a corridor is nice enough to walk into the path of Conjured Flames I summon and nets me level 10. Ouch! A giant blowfly literally appears out of nowhere and stings me for a good bit of damage. I'm used to the little buggers being fast, but with three ponderous pieces, my movement speed is sluggish. I might not be able to outrun Gastronok. I end up tackling another blob of kobolds and big kobolds without too much trouble. Poison resistance means I can chow on their meat without any problems! As I finish up the remnants I receive my fourth Piety star, and the ability to cast Slouch. Mmmhmm. Unfortunately, I take a wrong turn and find myself face to face with two big kobolds, an orc warrior, and two orc wizards. I retreat down the narrow passage so they line up nice and tight... Two Bolts of Magma later, and I'm cleaning up the last big kobold with Throw Flame. Easy peasy! I take a bit of damage clearing the rest of the level -- which features an eye of draining, top priority! -- but nothing else serious. Oh, and I earn my fifth Piety star with Chei, letting me cast Time Step and get the max stat boost... if I had any boots to make ponderous. But I don't. Oh well.
The choice is now between the Orcish Mines and continuing down the main dungeon. With Slouch I feel pretty good about the Mines, so I'll head there first. That gold is calling to me.
Orcish Mines 1-2
The first screen of Orcish Mines 1 is a little scary. Although the swarm of normal orcs isn't an issue, Norbert noticing me is. I cast Slouch and take out the normal orcs. Norbert is still two squares away. Bolt of Magma misses him. Urgh! He's now one square away. If I try to cast again, he'll get in melee range, and bad things will happen. However, I do have a scroll of teleportation; if I read it now, Norbert will move next to me, then I can head upstairs and, if he follows, it'll teleport me away, giving me a good chance of losing him on the level above until I can set up in a more favorable position. Let's go with that! The first part goes off without a hitch: Norbert follows me upstairs, hits me for a bit of damage, but the next turn I teleport away and lose him. I return to the stairs to the Mines carefully, picking narrow corridors so I can trap Norbert if I encounter him, but I make it there without sighting him. Hmmm. Must be careful. I head back to the Mines and continue clearing the level. And whaddyaknow, three squares away from the staircase, I spot Jozef. Damnit. Bringing him back upstairs is a very risky choice now that Nortbert could be waiting for me, but this level is too open for me to block him off -- I'll have to nuke as best as I can with liberal usage of my wand of disintegration. Here goes nothing! We exchange nukes (Bolt of Magma for me, Venom Bolt for him) until he teleports me away. Very, very far away. Where I meet an orc knight! Four Bolts of Magma and a zap from my wand take care of it, but man, I hope there aren't too many of his ilk around. At least this section has an exit to the dungeon and a hatch; if Jozef had teleported me into a section with no staircases I would have starved to death, unless my one remaining scroll of teleportation put me in a favorable spot. I return to D9 and dive back again into the Mines. I spot Jozef, but this time, he runs at me and tries to engage me in melee. Bad move! Four Bolts of Magma later I'm sitting on a pretty chunk of XP for training Invocations. I only train it to level 2, which costs me a single Piety star, leaving me with a fair chance of casting Slouch but with enough Piety that I'll be able to use it if I'm in trouble this time. Exploration quickly reveals this part of the level is small, so I clear it of orcs then head down the lone staircase available to me.
The entrance into Orcish Mines 2 is a redux of the above: two priests, two orcs, and a warrior greet me. Slouch kills off the priests and the normal orcs while I finish the warrior with a Throw Flame... Ruh roh, I made too much noise! Two more warriors, another knight, Sonja and other assorted orcs run out to chase me! Slouch time again! A couple of casts later, everything within one mile has been Slouched to death, my Piety is holding steady at four stars, and I've gained a sizable chunk of XP. I retreat to the previous level, rest to regen my MP, and head back down. Aw shit, another knight? Wielding a crossbow of frost? And he's out of range of Bolt of Magma? Ugh. Moving towards him at my snail pace will give him plenty of time to pelt me with that crossbow, meaning probably death. I could Slouch again, but I don't want to overuse it and be vulnerable. Enough with the mines already... Let's see if Norbert is still hanging around. Hmmm, still can't find him. Oh well. Let's try the next dungeon level.
Gah, more orcs as I enter D10. I can't get away from them! It's just the one warrior with a few boring orcs this time though. My fiery slaughter raises a lot of attention, and I bolt for the previous level when I see an ice beast, a worm, a water moccasin, and couple of other enemies. The moccasin follows but isn't a problem. Neither is the rest once I am rested and go back down. The rest of the level is fairly easy, with one close call: as I'm resting after killing a monster I discover a shaft right next to me. Whew! Disaster possibly averted. Another potential disaster is averted when an unseen horror jumps me, but by now, I know how to take care of those! Still no entrance to the Lair; I push on.
D11 looks a bit empty at first. I explore, finding easy monsters (hobgoblins, ice beast, etc.) and eventually, a mummy, who upon death curses my ring of life protection. No worries! Ogres? Gone! Hill giants? Oooookay, now I have to think about what I'm doing. The first one walks into a Conjure Flame and dies from two following Bolts of Magma. The second hill giant thinks himself clever and tosses a throwing net at me. I'm entangled, but no worries, I don't need to move to blast you into oblivion... Oh, and here's the entrance to the Hive! With poison resistance this is going to be a fun place to get some Chei piety!
Okay, I've got a bit of XP saved up, so I should find a plant to whack on to train Fighting to level 1. I also have to remember about the Orcish Mines; I still need to buy that Book of Fire at some point. For now, I'll head to the Temple, try to identify some potions and scrolls, and get ready for whatever comes next.
I start by identifying a long fluorescent wand I found. No effect when zapped at a wall. I zap myself... and this wand of random effects hastes me! Cheibriados is unhappy with this change of pace and I am now under penance. Ack. I'll have to be careful with wands from now on, wand of hasting is still out there! Since I have plenty of scrolls of identify, I read one to identify a glowing brass ring, which turns out to be a cursed ring of teleportation. Whew! But I get a bonus, another triple identify, so I select my largest scroll stacks: enchant weapon II and curse armour. I then drop all my scrolls except for one stack and start reading them one stack at a time, the reason being I haven't identified immolation yet and want to avoid unnecessary scroll destruction. The first stack turns out to be vulnerability (joy), the second recharging (I used it on my empty wand of disintegration!), the third has no effect (fear maybe?), the fourth is curse weapon, the fifth is magic mapping, the sixth is fog, the seventh is noise, and the eight is... immolation. Heh. I resist all but 2 points of damage anyway. Since my weapon is cursed, I decide to try on the two leather armours I've collected: the first is a boring +2 orcish leather armour, but the second one is a +2 leather armour of poison resistance! That means I can switch my weapon as soon as I find a better one or a staff. However, I haven't found any scrolls of enchant armour yet, which is annoying because I'd really like to boost its AC before making it ponderous. I'll wait for now and hope to find some before wearing it. Potion roulette time! Poison has no effect on me, agility is welcome but not mandatory, restore abilities is good, and mutation gives me +2 AC with no bad mutations! Damn, now I bet the next one is going to be cure mutation... The sudden increase from potion of speed is forgiven by Chei (since I had no idea), a potion of decay's effects are quickly countered by quaffing a potion of healing, paralysis is a brief annoyance, degeneration reduces my Int by 1 (still 33 to go before stat death), and the last potion turns out to be brilliance.
After all this, however, I realize that I am down to a single potion of heal wounds and two potions of healing -- all other stacks were either consumed in the identifying process or bad potions. So I head back up and visit a few general stores I found to replenish my stocks. I buy a total of five potions of healing but nothing else is available. Oh well. Time for the Hive! I need Chei to forgive me. But before that, I memorize Sublimation of Blood from my Book of Unlife, a great way to restore MP if you don't worship Sif Muna.
The first screen of the Hive level 1 is, whaddyaknow, full of killer bees. I cast Fireball on a group of four, then take two more with me upstairs since I want to avoid being surrounded at all costs. I also don't have access to Slouch anymore due to penance. Oh wait, killing the last bee puts me back in Chei's good graces! This is going to be easy. I spend my hard-earned XP fighting a plant right next to the staircase, then, when I realize this part of the the level is smallish, I'm forced to go down to continue exploring.
Hive level 2 always looks empty at first, but I've learned better over the many times I've cleared it. I did start next to another staircase leading up, however, so I might as well see what else is on level 1, so I go back up.
This section of level 1 has two larvae and two potions of poison. Wow.
I return downstairs to level 2, kill off a few more bees, then find the third staircase. Before going up I use Sublimation of Blood to restore some MP (which requires wielding some fresh meat). As I do, a killer bee pops in to say hi and poisons me -- my whip is my source of poison resistance... Sigh. Maybe I should have worn that leather armour. Oh well. Extra challenge!
The third section of level 1 is a tiny chamber with absolutely nothing in it. Bleh.
Back on level 2, I find the water section that usually contains a vault. There are two problems, though: several electric eels are waiting for me, and I have no means of levitation anyway. I'll clear the rest of the level, I suppose. I use Slouch whenever large groups of killer bees show up and nuke the larvae and individual bees with Throw Flame and Magic Dart. However, I must have abused Slouch, because after a couple of casts I'm downgraded to three Piety stars! Yikes! I have to be very careful from now on, I should avoid Slouch and build Piety instead. And as I say this, I'm surrounded by three killer bees and have to quaff my last potion of heal wounds to survive. On the plus side, I am now level 12! I boost my Int again, for a total of 35 (36 once my Int degeneration wears off, 41 if I could find some damn boots...). Training Necromancy with Sublimation of Blood is fun when you have an abundance of bees and larvae to butcher! No chance of going hungry either.
Clearing the entire level takes a lot of time, but it's worth it. By the end, not only is my Piety back up to five stars, I also find a Book of Envenomations, a plain deck of cards, a small ebony casket, and 32 honeycombs and 12 royal jellies, enough to last me a lifetime. I also spend as much XP as I can fighting plants, and am soon level 1 in Maces & Flails, although the Fighting still eludes me. The queen bee falls quickly to Bolts of Magma. I return to my Temple stash, drop off all my newfound permafood, and memorize Spider Form and Olgreb's Toxic Radiance, which looks like a damn fun spell for the Lair. Maybe I should try my hand at the Orcish Mines again? Why not.
Orcish Mines 1-4
Level 1 is still mostly empty. I kill a couple of orcs and a priest then head to level 2, which was where I'd stopped before, due to that crossbow-wielding orc knight. My kingdom for Repel Missiles... Oh, and there is the annoying bastard. He hasn't detected me yet and I'm in range for Bolt of Magma. Plus, I have a scroll of fog to cover my escape should the need arise. Three Bolts of Magma later (and two resisted bolts of frost later!) he's down. Rejoice! The exploration of the rest of the level goes somewhat unimpeded, at least until I meet a large band of orcs that I have to Fireball not once but twice to get under control. I'm still not out of danger, however, as a wizard confuses me right as a two-headed ogre spots me. I chug a potion of healing, Slouch to kill everything but the two-headed ogre, and finish it off with a Bolt of Magma. By now I have reached max Piety with Chei, which should give me enough breathing room to be able to spam Slouch a bit if I'm in trouble. I only find two staircases leading down, but another one that leads up -- let's see what it leads to...
Hmmm. A small room with a dozen orcs or so (who die to a single Slouch cast) and 25 gold pieces. Back to level 2, then onwards to the next level.
The initial Orcish mines level 3 screen is a bit scary: I know all those orcs and wizards and ogres will die to a single Slouch, but the stone giant is another problem entirely! Well, let's see how many boulders to the face I can eat. Two casts of Slouch kill off most of the orcs and leaves the stone giant moderately wounded, but I retreat upstairs before it can enter melee range, where it would ground me into a pulp without any trouble. Let's try the second staircase. Hmmm, I'm at the very opposite corner of the level, which probably means a different section altogether. A plethora of orcs falls to Slouch and Fireball before I continue, carefully, to explore the level. This section has a large amount of gold but isn't very big, and features only one staircase down. Ah well, I'm not that eager to go back to the stone giant.
As I step into Orcish Mines level 4 I am once again greeted by a multitude of mostly banal orcs, a rock troll zombie, and Josephine. The last two shouldn't be too much of a problem, I hope. A couple of casts of Slouch and Fireball kill Josephine and the rest except for the zombie and a warg skeleton. As I've accumulated a bit of XP and need a breather to let the monsters in the level wander away, I return to the Hive to bash on some more plants. I am rewarded with level 1 in Fighting almost right away! This will add some much-needed HP to my fragile frame. Okay, let's try that stone giant again.
Upon entering level 3 through the first staircase I don't see the stone giant, so I wander around, killing off small bands of orcs with Fireball and Throw Flame, regenerating MP with Sublimation of Blood. Then after a couple of hundred turns the stone giant turns up. Let's start off slow with my wand of disintegration... Ouch, rocks to the face! The stone giant is blasted, though, and I follow up with a few Bolts of Magma. I lose less than half of my health in the exchange but come up victorious with a totally sweet ~1800 XP to train my skills. I spend some to train Invocations to level 6 (still five Piety stars) and work on my Fighting when I encounter safe enemies such as hobgoblins or lone orcs. The other two staircases to the last level are also in this section. Once I'm done clearing this section, it's time to try my luck at level 4 again.
There are absolutely no monsters around the first one I try. How queer. I explore in a spiral around my staircase again, invest most of my XP into Earth Magic by blasting a few orcs (including a warrior) with Stone Arrow, and make use of the abundent orc flesh to regen MP with Sublimation of Blood. In my travels I meet (and nuke the shit of) the warg skeleton, meaning that level 4 is probably one big open level. Yup, here's that rock troll zombie again. Bolt of Magma says hi, bye. It doesn't take too long after that to finish exploring the rest of the level. I'm at 1311 gold pieces by this point, more than enough for a shopping spree at the bookstore I found before! I have a close call as I exit the level when I meet an orc knight who goes into a battle frenzy right away, and I have to teleport to escape since I'm low on MP and can't blast him fast enough. I know I've missed part of levels 2 and 3 since I'm missing staircases. I'll come back with a scroll of magic mapping and a wand of digging to find the entrance to the Elven Halls.
At the store I have a choice to make. With 1311 gold, I can't afford to buy every single book available: the most attractive are Nikola's Almanac of Lightness for 459 gold (Shock, Repel Missiles, Swiftness and Poison Cloud), a Book of Power for 540 gold, a Book of Wizardry for 360 gold, and a Book of Fire for 780 gold. I've got 8 spell levels available. I decide to go for the Almanac and the Book of Fire: Delayed Fireball is an incredibly powerful spell, and Repel Missiles will let me train Enchantments and turn out extremely useful in the Elven Halls, I'm sure. Not to mention when coming across centaurs or yaktaurs in the Lair.
I return to my Temple stash and drop off my spellbooks, try a couple of armour pieces on (nothing worthwhile) and pick up a few honeycombs, since I'm down to two bread rations. I don't have any new scrolls, potions, or wands to identify, which makes me sad. Guess I'll keep exploring the dungeon for now until I run into the entrance to the Lair. With poison resistance, neither the Snake Pit nor the Swamp should be much trouble. Boots please!
I resume my exploration of the normal dungeon at D12. Feels like a long time! I start in a twisting section full of those narrow corridors I like so much. I kill a jelly, an imp and a kobold before finding another staircase up, then move on to a vast, open expanse and sight a beetle, one of the few monsters left that are slower than I am. A few turns later I spot a cyclops, but am undetected; whoever suggested turning off Stealth as a spellcaster was nuts! I retreat to put up Repel Missiles as protection from the rocks the cyclops flings at me, and after downing the big bastard, use the XP to train Enchantments to level 1. I then continue to explore the level, meeting (and subsequently nuking) my very first hydra. Then, for bad luck, a mummy I kill turns four of my six potions of healing to decay! Damnit! I have to remember to drop my potions before I fight one of those next time. Not long after I stumble upon an weapon shop with two so-so artefacts that I can't afford anyway, so I move on, taking out an unseen horror with Slouch along the way. Damn I'm glad I learned that trick! The toughest monsters on the level are a trio of slime creatures that I sucessfully take out from afar before they merge. After inspection I only find two staircases leading down; must remember to try all the staircases up on the next level.
Right off the bat I can tell D13 is a very open level, the kind featuring multiple small "vaults" with one or two doors. For some reason images of opening one of them and meeting my doom at the hands of multiple centaur warriors haunt my mind. Oh, what's that? It's a Book of Spatial Translocations! Blink sure is gonna come in handy. And hey, as I make my way around the level I run into no other than a centaur warrior in a wide, open space! I tiptoe away, although with Repel Missiles, I stand decent chances of killing it now... assuming it's alone, which I can't tell. Another unseen horror, an orc warrior, and a yak die to my increasingly powerful repertoite of spells and abilities. I must say, I do enjoy when a character starts to come together, skills and abilities meshing and complementing one another. It's a lot more fun then repeatedly trying to get a Mummy Wizard to survive past D1 anyway. A bit later I discover a second staircase up, but as I walk towards it, I see an oklob plant blocking the path. Since I'm wearing nothing but artefact armour and have Repel Missiles I should be able to take it on... later, once I've cleared the level, just to be safe. That staircase's gotta wait. I meet a few more slime creatures; I make sure to pull them back, one at a time, and kill them with the utmost prejudice. Whenever I earn some free XP I work on Enchantments to boost my Repel Missile's power. Catching sight of the third staircase up, I try it, but it leads me to the same section of D11 I've already explored. Back down... I complete a circular circuit of the level and, feeling confident that I've isolated the centaur warrior, put up Repel Missiles and kill it with two Bolts of Magma, suffering minor damage. Those poison arrows aren't too scary. Another book turns out to be a second Book of Envenomations. Meh. Oh, and there's that staircase to the Lair, within the oklob's plant range. Must finish exploring all the small vaults first. Most of them are empty anyway, though one held a couple of yaks I butcher for sustenance. Okay, back to that oklob plant. I first try tapping it with Magic Dart from max range to gauge its damage output. Ow, I liked those 20 HP the acid just took away! I regen and decide to try a zap from my trust wand of disintegration, but turns out it's empty. Gah... I am carrying a few other wands I've picked up in the last two levels, though, so let's give those a try to identify them. A brass wand is a wand of magic darts. A crooked gold wand is fireball. A glowing lead wand is a wand of digging, nice! Finally, after finding a good angle to fire from, and discovering that there are not one but two oklob planta, I am able to spam a few Bolts of Magma and take them both down. Interestingly enough, Cheibriados finds their death satisfying. Time to try that third staircase going up!
This section of D11 is tiny and features nothing but an orc zombie. When I get to the end of the passage, I search and find a hidden door that takes me to the larger section I've already seen. Blegh. And here I was hoping for something exciting or amazing loot. Ah well. Let's see what the Lair has in store this time!
The Lair 1-4
Yeouch! I land on Lair 1 within sight of an electric eel (who starts pelting me with bolts of electricity), a great toad, and a crocodile. I run away from the eel while fending off the toad, then try to nuke it before, alas, it runs away. Fair enough. The crocodile's turn is next; two Bolts of Magma suffice to transform it from "snarling reptile" into "delicious crisp snack". I then move away from the pool of water, giving it a wide berth as I explore the rest of level, killing green rats (plentiful in the Lair) and snacking on them. A weapon shop has among its wares an artefact spear with the freezing brand, poison resistance and fire resistance, but at 2220 gold it's way off in the future. I pick up a crystal ball and identify it as a crystal ball of energy! A nice backup to Sublimation of Blood. Returning to my original entrance, I put up Repel Missiles and make a run for the electric eel's waters. It does not spot me, or the Bolt of Magma I aim at the back of its head with great results. I manage even better soon after when I stalk up to two electric eels and take both of them out with one Bolt of Magma. Onwards!
Upon entering Lair 2 I see one of the creatures I despise the most: the spiky frog. Sure, it doesn't look like much, but those spines hurt a lot if you let the little bugger get in melee range -- I've had to retreat from those when playing fighters in full heavy armour and shields. Slouch, on the other hand, should just about cause them to implode... Yep. The only monster to survive my wrath is a snail that I rip to shreds after retreating to the previous level and regenerating some MP. This level is again very open, although water-free, so I spiral outwards, slicing through helpless packs of grey rats as I do. I pick up a runed elven scale mail (might be useful later on) and a pitted ring mail, which I identify as a cursed ring mail of Fun and Games with +3 EV and -2 Str. Not terrible under other circumstances for a caster who'd be ready to branch into wearing heavier armour, but it simply won't do for a follower of Chei! My scroll of identify gives me a double so I identify an amulet I just picked up as resist corrosion. Damn, that would have been helpful with the oklob plants. I'd rather wear warding for now. When I've got a second, I identify two wands I've picked up. The first turns out to be slowing, and the second teleportation, which will be damn handy once I've gone through my scrolls! Late in my exploration I happen upon a small vault surrounded by water, but the sole door is blocked off by deep water. I could create an entrance of my own with my wand of digging; the only problem is, I don't know what's inside! The last time I explored one of those it was full of worms and mega-annoying swamp worms. I'll clear the rest of the level first, which doesn't take very long. Okay, so to be as smart as possible, I'll create the hole in a part of the wall next to two squares of deep water, so that if whatever's inside can't swim, they'll have to come one at a time in a line. Repel Missiles just in case... Okay let's go. Sure enough, it's a bunch of worms, including some swamp worms, who can dish out the pain if you come too close. Otherwise they're happy to stay hidden underwater, and so am I, happy to leave them be as I head downstairs after killing all the normal worms.
Lair 3 is once again much too open to my liking, but I press on, being a courageous chap -- and definitely not determined to find some boots even if I have to die in the process. A leatherbound book turns out be... a Book of Wizardry! Awesome, I won't have to buy it at that bookstore then. Haste is off-limits, but it's nice knowing I have access to Selective Amnesia and Teleport Self for later. For now, more exploring. The rest of the level is thoroughly uneventful as I kill every single monster I encounter without any trouble. Down I go.
Lair 4 starts with both a spiny frog and a gila monster within range. As chance would have it, they're standing next to each other, in a perfect line for Bolt of Magma... two bolts later and I'm hacking away at the spiny frog's corpse for meat. I come across another plain deck of cards but, by this time, my backpack is full! Not in terms of weight, but rather in number of slots. Guess it's about time I moved my stash to Lair 2.
It takes me two trips to move everything from the Temple to Lair 2, but hey, spending the time to do it now will save me much more later. Assuming I live long enough. Heh. I read a scroll of identify on my single unknown potion, and damn well, since it's a rare potion of cure mutation: drinking it would have wasted this precious resource since I bear a single beneficial mutation right now. I've got one unknown scroll, and decide to give it a try. At worst it's torment or holy word, at best, acquirement or enchant armour. Never mind, I smell baking bread. I also read a scroll of detect curse: all of my armour pieces are safe, but one of the rings I was carrying is cursed, making it a likely candidate for hunger (I already know teleportation). My other ring doesn't identify on wearing or when casting a fire spell either. So time to check out those armour pieces... +1 dwarven gauntlets, not bad, I make them ponderous. +1 elven scale mail? Meh. A +2 elven robe of the Archmagi? ... Holy crap! Now that is a nice find for endgame. Again, assuming I live long enough. I still haven't found any scrolls of enchant armour to improve my leather armour of poison resistance, so I keep my old boring leather armour on for now. Boots. Where are all the damn boots?
Before moving out, I go through my spellbooks and decide to learn Ignite Poison. I'm curious about a combo of Olgreb's Toxic Radiance + Ignite Poison for taking out multiple creatures. Not to mention it should be fun in the Snake Pit! If anything it might replace Slouch and save me some Piety.
I return to Lair 4 and resume my exploration. A pack of war dogs comes at me, but I'm able to fend them off one by one with Bolt of Magma and Sublimation of Blood to regen MP. The level is rather uneventful until I come across an area infested by a swarm of oklob plants; I go around for now, but hell, I bet they're guarding some damn boots. I try the Toxic Radiance + Ignite Poison combo on a bunch of grey rats and it doesn't even kill a single rat, although it severely wounds a few. Meh. When I've cleared the level I put on my amulet of resist corrosion and head for the oklob plants. Now, to find a good angle from which to nuke them... Since quite a few are bunched up I'm able to use Fireball to clear groups of them, even four at a time, before clearing the rest with Throw Flame. But nope, no good loot. Oh well. The XP was nice, and gets me within striking distance of level 14.
I begin Lair 5 next to a giant toad and a crocodile, which by now are harmless to me. The hydra who decides to show up when I'm killing the first two finally gets me to level 14! Oh hell, I hear the ticking of a clock, far away! I bolt upstairs and try a second staircase down. Nope, still far away. The third staircase however brings me nearby, and soon I find the portal, to the Labyrinth, which I've cleared once before. I've got 3 honeycombs and 2 bread rations that should last me long enough. In we go!
The Labyrinth is an annoying place, but it's not too dangerous, since the only monster you'll meet is the Minotaur (and the random hungry ghost). What's more dangerous is losing your way and starving to death if you haven't brought enough food. It's also impossible to map the place, so you need a good memory or a bit of luck to find your way; look at the walls, which change from rock, to stone, and finally to metal as you near the Minotaur and the exit. It takes me quite a while to find my way to the metal part, but then at last, the Minotaur is in my sight! I quaff a potion of brilliance to boost my spellcasting powers before beginning the nuking process. After releasing my Delayed Fireball I nuke the Minotaur with a couple of Bolts of Magma and it goes down without ever managing to deal any damage. The hatch back to the Lair holds quite a bit of loot, including a metalbound book (which turns out to be a Book of Fire... oh well), a sparkling silver ring, a twisted quick blade, a crystal ball, a runed elven buckler, a glowing robe... and not one but two pairs of boots. Huzzah! I exit and immediately use a scroll of detect curse, then return to my stash to try on my hard-earned loots. The quick blade ends up being a quick blade of Offence with flame brand and rF+. It's nice, but Chei dislikes its speed, so I'll leave it in my stash for now. My elven buckler turns out to be a +1 elven buckler of protection (+3 AC); it doesn't seem to impede my spellcasting at all so I strap it on. On the downside, my sparkling ring turns out to be a boring +2 AC, -1 Dex ring... except it may have further hidden properties. Hmmm. I burn a scroll of identify to make sure: oh, it's also got EV +3. Not too bad, but I'll keep my ring of fire protection on hand just in case. The robe is a +1 robe of resistance (rF+ and rC+); kinda cool, I make it ponderous and put it on. Both pairs of boots are boring +1 boots without any special properties, but that's okay, they give me +5 to all stats once I make them ponderous! With 41 Int none of my spells have a hunger cost anymore save for Delayed Fireball. Overall, can't complain.
I return to Lair 5, which I saw very little of before I entered the Labyrinth. The rest of the level goes swimmingly; after stepping into a Zot trap and getting a Poison school miscast (oh noes) I finally come across a staff! This weird runed staff, however, is a staff of poison, which is not too useful for me but does grant me poison resistance when I wield it. Better than nothing for now. The staircase to the Swamp is on this level too. I'll come back after clearing the whole Lair. Let's just hope a stampede of death yaks doesn't greet me on the next level.
Right away on Lair 6 I discover the stairs to the Shoals, a branch I've never explored before, but one for which I seem well-prepared. Still, I know the Swamp a bit more, so I'll make that one my priority. I meet my first blink frogs on this level. They can be quite an annoyance, since they're strong in melee and tend to escape when low on health, via spam blinking. Their meat is delicious and plentiful, though! The level is large but sparsely inhabited. Ah well.
I enter Lair 7 near starving. I just haven't found any edible corpses since the blink frogs, and it'd be a damn shame to have to resort to permafood when you're in the Lair with poison resistance, of all places. Fortunately, before full starvation sets in, I happen on a pack of yaks that give up their meat rather easily, so I'm able to go on and even use Sublimation of Blood. A leatherbound book turns out to be a Book of Death; nothing too useful in there for me, but hey, maybe I'll want to branch out into Necromancy later. I explore the whole level without any significant opposition. Even hydras aren't scary.
Lair 8, the last level, finally! If there are going to be any death yaks around they'll be here. Wait... this level has multiple, separate sections! This is interesting and reminescent of the Orcish Mines. This first one is tiny and home to a couple of toads and an elephant slug. Let's see what's under staircase #2. Oooh, a distillery! I take this opportunity to buy and identify strong poison, resistance, and might. The rest of this section is inhabited by a bunch of yaks, which I kill with ease, picking up a second amulet of warding and assorted scrolls (including an unknown one!). As I do, however, I keep hearing one or more Zot traps going off. I wonder what's in that third section... Death yaks! Egads! Slouch, save me now! Three casts later I've slaughtered the death yak welcoming committee and am blessed with ~4000 XP to train my skills. Mmmm, death yak, the other other white meat. Not far from the staircase I find an altar to Jiyva and the stairs to the Slime Pits, spend some time bashing a green rat in the head to train Fighting to level 2, learn Shields while doing so, and eventually return to my stash to drop off my hard-earned loot.
Back at my stash, an ancient spear turns out to be a spear with dragonslaying, magic resistance and see invisible. A smoking broad axe is an axe of venom with levitation, rN+, and increased stealth -- ooh, I can go investigate that vault in the Hive now! I decide to try my unknown scroll. It's a scroll of acquirement! My oh my, what to wish for? Surely it's between a book, a staff, or some jewellery. Let's go for the staff. Staff of energy it is! Awesome sauce. All my spells have no hunger cost anymore save for Delayed Fireball, but once I learn some advanced spells, it'll sure come in handy. I'll keep it in my backpack just in case.
For now I check my scrolls and see I've got two scrolls of magic mapping. I pick up my wand of digging and head back to the Orcish Mines to find the entrance to the Elven Halls. I find a large unexplored section of level 2 and dig my way there, seeing how there is both a staircase up and a staircase down. I Slouch to get rid of the mass of orcs waiting for me and am rewarded with level 8 in Invocations. I also meet Erica, who dies to two Bolts of Magma after dealing two damage to me with an orb of energy. A second later Joseph shows up, but is nuked unceremoniously by yours truly before he can do anything worth mentioning. I chop him up in pieces and use his flesh with Sublimation of Blood in revenge. That'll teach him! I try to use Slouch as little as possible, but when a horde of orcs is bellowing for your guts, it's hard not to. The gold's pretty nice. My Piety's holding steady at five stars. And there it is! The entrance to the Elven Halls.
So what should I do next? The Swamp and Shoals sound doable, but the Elven Halls are bound to have great elven armour and weapons for me, I'm an elf after all! I could continue exploring the main dungeon too. The Slime Pits are kinda off-limits for the moment: I have resist corrosion, but not resist mutation and nowhere near enough potions of cure mutation. And there's that vault in the Hive. Choices, choices...
Actually, I forgot a small section right near the entrance to the Orcish Mines. It's a small lake of deep water with four tiny vaults whose doors are open. It's only got a few items: some gold, a scroll of enchant weapon II, and two potions of healing. Every little bit helps. I then head to Hive level 2 and its electric eels. Clearing them isn't too difficult with stealth and Throw Flame/Bolt of Magma, which both cause the water to sizzle and turn into steam, dealing extra damage. Once I feel safe I wield my axe, levitate, then get in range of the walls and chuck Bolts of Magma at a couple of spots to create a landing. I return to land, equip my staff of poison, and shout to attract the yellow wasps's attention, killing them as they come out with no difficulty. Inside the vault are a two potions of speed (sigh), four bread rations, a glowing leather armour, a lemon, a boring buckler, and a smoking halberd. For now, let's check out the Swamp, even though I don't have an amulet of clarity yet.
The Swamp 1-5
Starting on Swamp level 1, I'll have to be extra careful: walking in shallow water slows me down and could make me easy prey for swamp worms or any of the beasts that inhabit this place. I can use Slouch to kill the fast-moving ones, but I'm still at five Piety stars so I can't spam it as much as I like. I proceed slowly, killing blowflies, toads, hydras, and a swamp drake, while avoiding the more dangerous monsters such as an alligator that won't come out on land to play, until I happen upon a swamp dragon! I manage to kill it but it doesn't leave a body behind, so no chance at butchering it for a hide. As always for the Swamp the level is huge and open, but nothing too nasty comes at me, so I move on, my Piety finally returning to six stars.
There's a good deal more land on Swamp level 2 than on the previous level and it makes travel a bit easier. There are electric eels around now, along with more swamp worms than before... and an alligator who stays up long enough to play and get me level 15! I boost my Int to 42; I've got 4 spell levels, which is always enough for Selective Amnesia. I continue. Fire resistance is kinda swell in here, and protects me from all the steam my Bolts of Magma are generating. I can also burn down trees to create paths. As I explore I come across a hydra, which doesn't last long, but the noises attract Francis. Hmmm, I've never tussled with him before, I think... At any rate I've got rF++, rC++, rN+++, rPoison, warding and Repel Missiles. How hard can he be? As I approach him however he simply turns around, without detecting me, and walks away! Huh. I meet him again not too long after, and this time he does walk into Delayed Fireball range. Have at thee! Cool, ~2000 XP. Must find some rats to whack with my staff. But I can only find hydras, and I ain't meleeing those. Overall, I'm feeling good about not having to resort to Slouch too much.
Ugh, I see a slime creature when I enter Swamp level 3. Hate those. Let's see about killing them one at a time; getting overwhelmed will lead to a quick death. Whew, it was alone. But what's that? Xtahua? Very resistant to fire? Resistant to poison? Oh snap. Stone Arrow's at max power, but I'm not sure it's enough to kill this little fellow, who I've never encountered before. Let's see about moving back to the staircase first... All right, his fire breath isn't too dangerous with rF++, but just to be safe I put on my ring of fire protection too, giving me rF+++. How much damage does a single Slouch cast do to him? Hmmm, only lightly wounded, but he's two squares away, so I guess it can't hurt to try Stone Arrow after all? Wish I had Iron Shot. Doesn't faze him. All right, back to the previous level, let's not take chances. On the way to another staircase down I walk into a Zot trap that electrocutes me for some damage, but nothing fatal. Ooooh, this second staircase is almost right next to the first one! Can't see the big bastard yet. I shout to attract Xtahua's attention, but he decides to bring a friend along, a large slime creature. Can Bolt of Magma hurt them both? Yes, it does! The large slime creatures flees and I am unable to finish it. Xtahua is now moderately wounded. Hey, I might be able to do this! I return to the first staircase, then try my luck at nuking him again. Gah! I empty all I have into him, losing a couple of scrolls in the process, but he's only almost dead! And my only wand is digging. I retreat, regen MP, and try the other staircase. Nope. By this time he's back to full. Time to go pick up some wands in my stash to finish him.
Let's see... no wand of frost or cold. Urgh. All I've got is magic darts, disintegration (which is empty), and lightning. I did find a couple of wand shops higher up in the dungeon though. Maybe they have anything useful. Oooh, one's selling a wand of cold with 16 charges for 238 gold. The price is right! Let's see about Mr. Xtahua now.
Shit! Of course he was waiting for me next to the staircase. I retreat upstairs, but he follows, so I have no choice but to take him down before it does the same to me. 10 charges of my wand of cold later, I've lost a couple of scrolls and two-thirds of my HP, but I come out on top with over 5000 XP in the bank. And he's nice enough to drop a dragon hide for me! After the fact I realize this would have been a good time to Time Step. There's always next time. I return to level 3 and continue to explore. Fighting a rat nets me Shields level 2, and my Fighting skill is increasing, veeeeeeeery slowly, but still far from level 3. And... here's a wand of cold. That would have been useful five minutes ago, damnit! After considerable exploration, and a couple of interesting fights with two electric eels at the same time, I've cleared the level and move on.
Swamp level 4 can't be harder than what I've just had to go through, can it? The level starts off easy, actually, until I meet an hydra who manages to run away from me before I can kill it. I shrug, head up the nearby staircase to mark it, but when I come back down either the hydra was hiding in deep water or I missed its big green mass of heads and fangs since it blends in so well with the foliage. Anyway, it gets next to me and attacks me at the same time Duane appears from behind a tree. How about Time Step now, eh? Let's give it a try. Duane has come and gone, but the hydra is only one square away -- should be plenty of room to kill it. Yup. It does take out one-third of my HP so I head upstairs to regen. I return to the level and soon meet Duane, who eats a Delayed Fireball first, then a few Bolts of Magma for good measure. Another ~2000 XP in the bank! And a few hundred turns later, here's Boris! Geez, the uniques just don't stop. This guy's considerably more powerful than all the other uniques I've faced before. Although he's not resistant to fire, his offensive arsenal is impressive, and I don't have Dispel Undead to make my job easier. Again, I do have good resistances, but I'm worried his Bolt of Iron is simply going to rip through me. I read a scroll of teleportation and, while it works its magic, pelt him with a Bolt of Magma to get an idea. Oh shit he flung an Orb of Destruction at me! Fortunately the teleportation kicks in before it can reach me, although I am very far from a staircase now. The single Bolt of Magma I got off took Boris down to moderately wounded. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm... looks doable. Gah, stupid bastard's following me! We end up in a nuking contest, and I win after avoiding his Bolts of Iron, but since he's a lich he revives so I read another scroll of teleportation (not knowing where he revives, exactly) and make good my escape. Whew. I regen my MP and prepare for round 2. There's no way he's going to let me live now. I find a wand of fireball, which could turn out useful if I use up all my MP in another Boris fight. Woah, I hadn't realized, but he was worth quite a nice chunk of XP! I return to the first place I found Boris but he's not there. I really don't want to be surprised, and I don't want to go peek at the last Swamp level with Boris possibly waiting for me upstairs either. Well, let's wander around for now and hope I can repeat my feat of strength. After several hundred turns, though, I still haven't seen him; is it possible he revived on a different level altogether? I can't scum on this level forever. Okay, enough, let's have a look at the final Swamp level.
Unknown horrors await me as I step into Swamp level 5. Actually, just a single electric eel for now. I venture out step by step, staying on land, retreating and trying a different direction so I explore all around my entrance staircase first. Once I've seen enough I go back to level 4 and try a different staircase. The second staircase lands me right next to a stone chamber of some kind! That must be the vault, or one of them at least. Easy, easy... The third staircase puts me close to the second one, again within sight of the vault. I nuke a swamp drake, a swamp dragon, and a hydra who all ventured close enough to my position, being extra careful to retreat so I don't get mobbed. Jeez, the hydras and the swamp drakes just keep coming! Slouch + Fireball kills off two swamp dragons at once, finally earning me level 16 and a +1 Int boost. I keep Boris in mind, however, and only retreat to regen upstairs if I'm in actual danger. After pulling a few more drakes, hydras and dragons from the vault, I start exploring the rest of the level to make sure something with lots of sharp teeth doesn't bite me in the ass when I go in... and I actually have a pretty close call with a single electric eel, who catches me in the water and electrocutes me for enough damage that I have to retreat behind a tree. Once it gets close Bolt of Magma flattens it. I complete a circuit of the outer edge of the level, take a deep breath, and begin exploring towards the middle, the vault, and what I know must be my first rune. I manage to take out two swamp dragons, a hydra and a leech all at the same time via judicious Slouch usage. I finally enter the vault... but it's empty. Save for the precious decaying rune of Zot. Huzzah! One down, at least two more to go.
Whew, what a stressful trek that was. Tons of XP, though: I gained two full levels in there, and didn't kill that many uniques. Boris's whereabouts still worry me but I don't figure I'll be going back in there to scum for him any time soon. Maybe if I get bored and suicidal.
Back at my stash I go through my "detect curse, try everthing not cursed, discard the crap" ritual. Everything I've picked up is boring anyway, with a whopping three pieces (robe, leather armour, and chain mail) with fire resistance on them. The smoking halberd ends up being the halberd of the Eternal Warrior, with a vorpal brand and +4 Dex -- nothing a bookworm like me can make use of. Oh hey, I did pick up a stack of three unknown scrolls. Enchant armour? Let's hope so. Yep! I wish I'd found them before making my robe of resistance ponderous. On the other hand, I don't need to switch to my leather armour of poison resistance just yet.
So I did say Slime Pits was off-limits earlier... except I came up with a devious plan after realizing the altar to Jiyva is right next to its entrance. I drop off my excess gear, pick up all my rations and honeycombs, then head to the Temple and abandon Chei. His wrath doesn't last very long, so after going through a few rations and honeycombs, I return to the Lair and to the Slime Pit entrance. I join Jiyva's religion, then start heading downstairs, but after a couple of levels I realize I forgot my wand of digging! Damnit! Now I have to return to my stash and put it in potential danger. I grab my wand and recharge it with a scroll before leaving the level as quickly as I can; no jelly sounds, so hopefully, I am safe. The descent into Slime Pits is probably the easiest branch I've ever done, and when I reach the last chamber, I grab as much as I can, which is not very much... but it does include a Book of Annihilations! Along with two artefact weapons and an artefact amulet. Jiyva has also been nice enough to grant me the teleport control mutation and has shuffled a couple of attribute points towards Int. I thank him by leaving him, return to the Temple, and re-join Cheibriados, preparing myself for a long bout of heavy mutations and fighting off summoned slimes. I've got my amulet of resist corrosion and my ring of sustain abilities, though. After the most severe early punishments (which include quite a few bad mutations) I venture outside, buy more food at the stores, and even defeat a few acid blobs (scary damage, even with resist corrosion), death oozes and eyes of devastation that Jiyva has sent to punish me. Mmmm, XP and Chei Piety! Wish I had a scroll of acquirement for more food at this point. Eventually, I am down to my royal jellies, and Jiyva is still not mollified, although he's been nice enough to make me carnivorous. I gotta go out and keep exploring!
Before I do, I memorize Selective Amnesia and forget Olgreb's Toxic Radiance and Ignite Poison, using the spell levels to to try to learn Orb of Destruction, not easy when my vision is a blurry! I succeed after three attempts -- the book does not lash out at you when your learning attempt fails from bad vision, whew. I then read a scroll of detect curse and try on my three uncursed artefacts. A holy morningstar with rN+ and see invisible. A hand axe of draining with Dex -2, Int +2 and electric resistance? Oooh, now that'll be nice for Vaults! My twitching pewter amulet's only attribute identified is +4 Int, so I read a scroll of identify: it turns to have warding, too... but glows with mutagenic radiation. Ugh, no thanks.
All right, I seem good enough to go. Wait, where's that rune I picked up in Slime Pits? Where is it? Is it... did I leave back there in my rush to pick up as many items possible? Oh my. That's the stupidest thing I've ever done. Ever. Wow. Talk about wasting thousands of turns and most of my permafood for a handful of shitty artefacts. Ugh. At least I got a great book out of it. But I still hate myself.
Nothing to do but continue exploring the dungeon, at this point, and work on my Chei piety. At the very start of D14 I come across Nergalle. A perfect target for testing Orb of Destruction! HOLY SHIT. Talk about painting the walls red! I've read horror stories of people blowing themselves up with that spell, however, so I must be careful and only use it at range. Fortunately, I still have Bolt of Magma, Fireball, and all my other spells. The level isn't hard, and a group of centaurs with a centaur warrior leading falls easily. However, I have yet another close call when I meet another centaur warrior alone, in an open area: even with Repel Missiles up it takes me down to 1 HP in two bowshots! I blink towards a corner, quaff a potion of heal wounds (curse you, frail body mutation!) then nuke the centaur warrior when it turns the corner. After clearing the entire level I am back up to two Piety stars with Chei and haven't been the target of Jiyva's wrath in a while. Let's try the next level.
Ugh, D15 is a pre-made level, wide open with all three staircases up in the middle and a hydra giving me the eye. I explode the hydra with an Orb, then smash the hill giant who wanders in with Bolt of Magma before retreating to regen. I return downstairs, kill a second hydra, then deal with more centaurs. However, when multiple skeleton warriors show up, I fire a couple of Orbs before retreating upstairs to regen and take a different approach. No Slouch yet, sigh... Of course, when I try the third staircase, the skeleton warriors have all congregated around it and follow me when I race back upstairs. Here's where Blink and that controlled teleport mutation come in handy! I blink behind them, send a couple of Orbs and a Delayed Fireball into the group, then retreat, use Sublimation of Blood, and continue nuking with Bolt of Magma. Whew. Jiyva floods me with mutagenic radiation but nothing happens. Three Piety stars now! My attributes are slowly climbing back up, and I've regained all the resistances I had previously. My carnivorous mutation allows me to eat meat at any time, similarly to an amulet of the gourmand, so I take the opportunity and chop the many centaurs I slay into chunks and have a feast until I'm engorged. Chei doesn't find this behavior interesting, however, which is strange. Oooh, the entrance to the Vaults! This is getting serious. I kill all manners of monsters, from orc warriors to cyclops to hill giants, and gain my fourth Piety star before the level is over. Oh Slouch, I missed you! The Int boost has also finally made all my spells (including Delayed Fireball and Orb of Destruction) hungerless, so even without much permafood, my chances of starving are now quite slim. Lastly, I open the door to a small vault and am greeted by four brain worms and a neqoxec. My ring of sustain abilities hasn't left my finger since I deserted Jiyva! I see only two staircases heading down, though. Hmmm.
As I step into D16 I receive a bazaar message. I have only 1250 gold, but I'm going to try to find it anyway! A handful of slime creatures eat a Delayed Fireball followed by an Orb (a combo I'm growing fond of) and grant me level 17. I try a second staircase, blow up many more slime creatures, and then bring down an orange statue to open the portal to the bazaar. Yay! For 770 gold at a jewellery store I buy a ring with rC+, +5 EV and +1 Int, along with a ring of magical power. I also buy out an entire food emporium's stocks just in case: four rations and assorted fruits and vegetables for 150 gold. The weapon and wand shops don't have anything of great interest for a spellslinger like me. On second thought, let me grab that amulet of clarity for 231 gold too, just in case. Whew. A good shopping spree! Down to 92 gold pieces I return to the dungeon. I glimpsed Eustachio before, so I slap on my amulet of warding, turn the corner, and nuke him with Orb of Destruction. I am showered in the poor fellow's chunks of meat before claiming my prize, another scroll of acquirement! After picking it up however my backpack is full, so I return to my Lair stash to drop off my loot.
Wow. I still can't believe I was such an idiot and forgot to grab the rune in the Slime Pit. I have one new unknown scroll type: at this point, the last few possibilities are enchant weapon III, holy word, summoning and torment. Nothing I need for the moment. I am debating chugging my potion of cure mutation. On the one hand, I've got a couple of nasty mutations (-20% HP, blurry vision, stat rot) but quite a few beneficial ones (carnivorous 2, teleport control, and +5 AC from yellow and indigo scales). The stat rot also means I'm forced to keep my ring of sustain abilities on. Oh well. I'm debating returning to the Slime Pits anyway and clearing the old school way, I'm bound to earn a few more bad mutations along the way. While I'm here, I memorize Apportation (to train Translocations) and Lehudib's Crystal Spear (to nuke the shit out of everything), the first time I've ever managed to do so. Can't wait to be able to use Fire Storm. Hey, that cursed ring I found a while back that wasn't teleportation, and which I thought was hunger? Turned out to be magical power. Duuuumb.
Revenge of the Slime Pits
I feel more than a little stupid in forgetting the goddamn rune at the bottom of the Slime Pits. It's only the most important part! Mutations be damned, I'm going in, this time without Jiyva's help but armed with Orb of Destruction and Crystal Spear. My artefact armour isn't scared of corrosion anyway.
I've already got most of the placed mapped out, so Slime Pits 1 isn't a problem. The main risk will be the lack of food, so I brought many rations. And right as I think that... I fall through a shaft. Oh goddamnit, not again.
I'm only in Slime Pits 2 though, which should be manageable. A combination of stealth and precise, powerful nuking takes care of most enemies, such as the plentiful slime creatures, and with five Piety stars I've returned to my former, full Cheibriados-based powers. My Int is at an awesome 50 now! However, I fell in a small section with a single staircase leading down, and before I leave Jiyva strikes again, reducing my Str by 1. Meh. Do your worst, I'm about to commit deicide on your ass!
On Slime Pits 3 I am far away from the corner of the level I had explored in my first foray. Azure jellies aren't an issue for a fire-based spellcaster like me! I launch an Orb at an eye of draining from max range and catch a chunk of meat, snacking on it. Goddamn if that isn't my new favorite spell. Crystal Spear still has a hunger cost (choko) but its success rate is already very good. Well, this part of the level is even worse than the previous one, because all it's got is a hatch leading down. Urk. My finger's over the Slouch button as I leap down.
Two slime creatures greet me as I arrive in Slime Pits 4 but don't have time to merge before I kill them with Bolt of Magma. At least now I'm in a previously explore section of the level, but if I remember carefully, this one was inhabited by quite a few monsters. Oh, that sounds like a Zot trap, must be careful where I step. But I do blunder into it a few turns later, and charges me with mutagenic energy, which gets rid of my carnivorous mutation. Bah! I liked that one. A shining eye zaps me with even more, and my -20% HP transforms into -30% HP. Wow. Someone doesn't like me. At least I've cleared this part of the level and have a base of sorts from which to assault the rest. First, let's clear back up.
I return to level 3 and work my way to the stairs up that I took on my first visit. However, I accidentally destroy a part of a wall with Orb of Destruction, and a flood of creatures comes out. I stem the tide as best as I can, retreating along the way, tossing Fireballs, Slouch, Bolts of Magma and Orbs as best as I can until I am forced to read a scroll of blinking to get away... which fails, of course, due to my blurry vision. Slime creatures coalesce into a large slime creature and mangle my face. I die.
That was one pretty darn good game. Without early randomness dooming me I progressed fast, despite some of my own mistakes. I don't think I'll convert to Jiyva again for diving in the Slime Pits: they look manageable, even if it's where I died... but mostly due to a bad mutation I'd earned from abandoning Jiyva in the first place. I might try Vehumet or Sif Muna next time to mix it up.
Lessons learned: Swamp is easy with poison resistance; I was afraid I'd need clarity too, but I didn't. Orb of Destruction is mega-awesome (despite being partially responsible for my demise). I can out-nuke Boris. Slime Pits is doable, albeit still a dangerous place. I should have waited a couple more levels before trying it. Damn that blurry vision mutation, and the -30% HP one too, while we're at it.
Thank you for an enjoyable enjoyable read. I had a go at a few DECj's of Chei myself - interesting combination, but ponderousness ruined it for me. I prefer gods that don't make an already fragile character even more fragile. Anyway, keep it up and nice writing style. --Elynae