I found a mace on D:2, shortly after gaining XL 4, and switched from my axe. While axes are good, and Hill Orcs have a slightly better aptitude for them, I usually prefer Maces & Flails for the more powerful one-handed weapons. I also found a shield on this level, and was happy I switched weapons. I gained Beogh's third power (followers) on D3, just after defeating my first batch of orcs. One of the orcs left me a flail, so I upgraded. As I usually do when playing a Hill Orc Priest, I held onto the mace for future followers.
Blork the orc was on D:4, in the Sif Muna island vault. He didn't convert, and throwing stones wasn't doing much damage, so I left him there. On this level I identified my rings and found I had a ring of poison resistance, ring of protection from magic, two rings of protection from cold, and a cursed -5 ring of protection. I put on the first two and dropped the junk.
D:5 had an antique armour shop with a randart leather armour and a shiny dragon armour. I won't be able to afford the second for a while, but I bought the leather and found it to be +4 Acc-1. Not great, but maybe a follower will want it. I also bought an unenchanted helmet and pair of gauntlets. The Ecumenical Temple stairs were on this level, so I deposited some extra equipment there.
Next up was D:6, which went quite well for me. I picked up my first followers around the Orcish Mines stairs, and poked my head in to see what was around. Dowan and Duvessa were visible, as well as a few orcs who converted. I didn't want to go through followers too quickly, though, so I left them there for future recruitment. Another armour shop yielded some boots; it also has a helmet of see invisible which I cannot yet afford. Not long after that, I found Sharnga, an amazing unrandart bow (+8,+8, Speed, Dex+3, SInv). I gathered up all the plain arrows I had found (about 150) and went back to the stash to retrieve my scrolls of enchant weapon. I got the arrows up to +4,+4, and went back. I also brought back some armour and weapons for my orcs, including the randart leather armour.
D:7 and D:8 were uneventful. I picked up some more orcs, and managed to get one equipped with a sling of flaming (one had a bow, but later died). I did at some point find a staff of channeling, but that's not so useful to me. D:9 was more interesting, with Gastronok, Eustachio, and Joseph; orcs took care of the slug, and arrows the humans. Gastronok was carrying the hat of Pondering, which might be worthwhile if I need extra magic resistance at some point. On this level I found another randart leather armour, this one cursed. It identified as being +3 Int-2 Acc+3, so I gave it to one of my followers. The level also had a few vampire mosquitoes, which the orcs and I took care of. I managed not to get bitten myself, but I did lose a few orcs. I went back up to collect a bow of velocity and persuaded an orc to equip it.
It's kind of early to tell how this game will go, but with an awesome bow (now trained up to level 4) I am hopeful. It would be nice if I could override my orcs' weapon preferences ("no, really, this bow is much better than a couple of hand axes") and tell certain individuals to stay put, but otherwise I like the follower system. My current companions are:
- three orcs, one with a bow of velocity and some arrows of frost
- three orc wizards
- an orc warrior; this is the guy with the sling of flaming
- Learuk the orc priest
Now to descend further. Though I have poison resistance, I think killer bees might still be too fast for me (and they will annihilate a party of orcs), so the Hive will probably need to be skipped. The Lair ought to be fairly straightforward once I find it. If I lose too many orcs, or just decide I want more, I'll do a level of the mines.
DL 10 contained a labyrinth portal. I used a couple of scrolls of magic mapping to find it. Along the way I lost a couple of orcs to a troll, but found a few replacements. I also encountered a mummy, who death cursed my bow; with no scrolls of remove curse, I was effectively back to melee combat. I made it to the labyrinth portal and entered. One bread ration worth of exploration later, the minotaur was in sight. Had my bow been uncursed, I might have been able to take it out from a distance. Instead I approached and whacked it. That was a bad idea. I fled, but that doesn't work so well in a labyrinth. I wound up backed into a corner. A scroll of blinking would have been handy, but alas I had none. I should have teleported—that would have left the minotaur in a corner, giving me a chance to reach the exit without resistance. Oh well. I probably shouldn't have taken the portal without having a decent ranged attack (and, even with +12 total enchantment bonus, a cursed bow isn't decent enough).