Welcome back!

Last time, a horrible fate befell Viki. Or.. did it? Actually, it did. But then this happened:


Apparently, being in good favor with the main dude upstairs, Viki gets to have a second chance at life and does, in fact, rise from her grave. But not really, I just rolled a new (but otherwise identical) character. Don't tell her that.

Rising from her grave - which conveniently doubles as the entrance to the dungeons of Angband - Viki spies a curious (h)obbit all the way across town. This is particular curious since usually the only hobbits are hiding out in stores trying to cut her a raw deal on a shovel or something. Her rotting, shambling corpse decides to investigate.

He immediately begins talking her ear off about mushrooms and dogs, the whole time making :( faces at her. Viki is less than pleased by this turn of events, and having been reanimated as a horrible ghoul, decides to beat some sense into him the only way she knows how: Through actual beating.

Folks, meet Farmer Maggot, every player's favorite unique monster and probably the reason that the option to use any key to clear -more- prompts was invented. Farmer Maggot exists for two reasons: To annoy the hell out of you, and to give any player lucky enough to encounter him early on an awesome early-game item drop. He also has obscene amounts of HP.

Of course, Farmer Maggot's degrading name and horrible sobbing (and also his delicate face) are no match for Viki's mace. He leaves behind a beautiful pointy instrument, and maybe if he'd done some stabbing instead of whining he'd still be alive. For now, Viki drops off the dagger at home (for hot IDing action later) and picks up the requisite leather armors, a short bow, and some arrows. She also learns Cure Light Wounds, proving some continutiy with her former life.

Let's skip over the first few levels she gains, because it's nothing new. Instead, let's take a look at a peculiar scenario Viki finds herself in.

Namely, in the middle of a WORM EXPLOSION. This is only worth mentioning because this is actually a tactic some players willingly engage in at low levels, known as "farming". The idea is to get a relatively harmless monster with explosive growth trapped in a small area, and then let it fill up as much of the area as you're comfortable with - and then slaughter everything until it's no longer practical to do so. Needless to say this can be quite dangerous, and explosive monster growth was slowed somewhere late in the 2.9.x line to try and discourage this behavior (and also make these monsters less of a pain to deal with in ordinary combat).

Viki has no such designs, of course. Instead she kills them and gains another level shortly afterward, at which point it's time to head back to town and sell a bunch of stuff. She drops some unID'd armor in her house on the way, because that's actually what it's good for at this point in the game - if you can't afford to ID it, don't. She does pick up the dagger and ID that, though, and it turns out to have some pretty decent bonuses on it. I didn't get a shot of it and didn't write it in my notes for some reason, but that sucker gets sold fast because Viki's not touching it.

Flush with cash - or so she thinks - Viki decides that it's time to check out the last remaining shop in town, the Black Market. She's also learned Detect Doors/Stairs so now the first prayer book is useless and she begins saving up her chance to learn new ones for the next book at level 5.

At this point, there's not actually any real reason to go there - you need to be holding at least 5k in cash to make a trip to the Market worthwhile - but here's what it holds. It's kind of a catchall shop which sells everything you can't (and sometimes can) get in town at ridiculous prices. Check out that 35k shield. Needless to say, this place becomes the only area where it's worth spending money after a certain point in the game, but we're nowhere near close to that yet.

This is also as good a chance as any to explain what an ego item is. You might see the 'Pike of Slay Evil' and the 'Shield of Deflection' there. These are ego items - a piece of equipment with a special property. They're not artifacts, because they're not named, but they have properties above and beyond mere enchantments. Don't ask me what Deflection does because hell if I know (it probably has a chance to reflect an attack) but Slay Evil does just what it says - it's a weapon that deals triple damage against 'evil' creatures. I am also fairly certain that priests can weild any bladed weapon with a Slay Evil ego on it, but it might need to be its bigger and more emphatic brother, *Slay Evil*.

This side trip out of the way, Viki goes back to dungeon-crawling and encounters a mysterious invisible foe who picks her pocket at the first opportunity. We all know who that is, but now's not the time to go chasing after him. More dungeon-diving ensues, and Viki ends up on level 2, prepared for a fight which will teach us something suspicious about group monster behavior in Angband.

With the montage that took me way too long to put together over with, Viki realizes two things about this fight - why did she only see those three spiders at first? And why didn't they rush her when she retreated into the doorway to bless herself?

The answer appears to lie in the new monster group behavior algorithms. I'm unsure if some monsters are more intelligent than others in groups, but these spiders wanted to stay out of Viki's line of sight when she was in the doorway - meaning that they wouldn't gang up on her when she stood there, allowing her to heal and buff up to her heart's content. This behavior means Gon's death was extra super stupid, because he could have just run into the doorway and rested to heal up and probably never would have been touched. Ouch.

Viki levels up shortly afterward and takes the opportunity to learn a few new spells. Scare Monster is a lot more useful than it sounds - when in serious danger from a single foe (or even two of them) this spell, combined with the priest's teleportion spell Portal, will get her out of all kinds of trouble. Of course, most monsters later in the dungeon will resist fear, eventually making it useless.

Speaking of Portal, Viki learns it next. I didn't get a cap of the spell's description, but it teleports her 21 squares away in the dungeon. This makes it better than phase door, but not as good as a real teleport spell, and I have no clue if a priest learns one of those. The rest of her trip is uneventful aside from having to use her potion of Healing due to being put in a dumb predicament. She also slays Grip and Fang, but only gains one more level (putting her at level 7) before deciding that it's time to head topside. Also, her inventory is full.

Up top, she picks up the third prayer book and takes a look inside. She hasn't learned her newly obtainable prayer yet, and there's a reason why:

These spells look good, but there's one in particular that Viki really wants. She's heard that it will allow her to blow away pretty much any monster in the dungeon right now, and that's more or less right - which means that between now and level 9, she's going to save up all her spells to learn as many of those level-9 spells as it takes to ensure she gets Orb of Draining. What you need to know about this spell right now is that it's the first attack spell that priests get, it's got an area of effect, and, no shit, it hits something like 50% of the dungeon's monsters in their weak point for massive damage.

Going through all the trash she picked up in the dungeon, Viki IDs a +5 cloak, and immediately puts it on. So warm. So soft. So.. safe.

And we reach the end of this short update. With most of the early game covered, updates are going to be a bit slower and probably shorter until new, more exciting things start happening to Viki.

Next time: Thrilling adventures! Excitement! Unique rooms! The final battle with Smeagol - who will survive this decisive encounter?

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