Welcome back! This update is brought to you by alcohol, insomnia, and the letter 'k'.

Last time on Let's Play Angband: The Adventures of Viki: Redux, our heroine obtained a shovel truly worthy of a devout reanimated corpse, and also turned Smeagol into dust. This week, she's going to do some more dust-turning and more treasure-adventuring. I think. This is what happens when I wait a week between playing and preparing an update.

Regardless of my bad Let's Play habbits, after waking up in the town, Viki makes an immediate and mostly uneventful run on the dungeon - she only has one recall scroll, and it's better to use it to go up than to go down. Her trips through the first three floors are uneventful, except for this level up, where Viki learns two spells that will prove to be of marginal use: When you can detect doors 'sense surroundings' (AKA 'magic mapping') is almost completely useless, and Sanctuary isn't likely to get Viki out of situations where she's really going to be in serious trouble. Plus it costs too much to be used as an emergency prayer.

My real problem with priests is that they get a handful of completely overpowered spells, and the rest of their abilities are absolute junk, become obsolete quickly, or are situational at best. Mages have a more sensible progression, if only because they're so terrible at melee that every minor upgrade they get in the spell realm is a serious boon that allows them to travel a floor or two deeper. Mages are difficult to run because balancing their abilities to their current level to how deep in the dungeon they can go is a tricky game to learn.

My ideal Angband variant would find some way to balance out the priest class to make it more manageable to play. But we'll talk about variants (hopefully much, much) later.

Griping aside, Viki keeps going down deeper into the dungeon, and on level 4 finds a "good" cap which will immediately supplant her own +0 leather cap she's wearing. Who knows what the bonus on it is - and it actually won't show up in the AC calculation in Viki's status bar until it's been ID'd - but it's better than nothing, even if it's just +1. Picking up an identify scroll a short while later, Viki discovers that it's a +6 cap, which is a phenomenal bonus.

Heading down to floor 5 - deep, as far as we're concerned so far, even though it's just a drop in the bucket - Viki discovers a Wand of Stinking Cloud. This is a wand that fires an area of effect spell which covers a 2-square radius and deals a fixed amount of poison damage, something like 13 I think. For any any non-mage and non-priest character this would be a great item, but mages get this spell at level 3 and priests have Orb of Draining, which will do like three or four times that amount of damage regularly with no chance for resistance.

But it'll fetch some good cash, so she keeps it. One of the dirty secrets of Angband is that unless you know a piece of equipment is 'good', it's almost never worth hauling it back to the surface in favor of a magical item, unless it's equipment that's generated very deep in the dungeon usually (like the Metal Brigandine Armor that Viki picked up several updates back). You have to ID magic items to get their true value out of them, but wands and staves which will be useless in most scenarios make excellent salable items.

Viki eventually comes across a ring. It's time to break the rules of Angband in a specific way, and for a specific reason: She's going to use-ID this ring in order to see if it will cause her to teleport wildly around the world.

Putting it on, Viki feels like she's being touched by a thousand ghosts. Okay, maybe it's not that bad, because this is a pretty mild curse. In fact, it's so mild that Viki is able to cast Remove Curse and the ring slips right off her finger. She'll be holding onto it until it can get "for real" ID'd, but when putting it on she didn't feel any stupider, weaker, uglier, less wise, clumsier, or like she was in danger of contracting consumption. That means, with almost absolute certainty, this is a ring of teleportation - since that's the only other kind of cursed ring that shows up at this depth.

Non-priest characters, of course, can't do this. Hopefully this is the only time in the whole game that Remove Curse will be used, because it's useful for exactly one other thing: Getting a stupid player out of trouble. Well, maybe if we're lucky it'll be used to remove some mild curses from artifacts, but most of those have curses that can't be removed by this spell alone.

Viki also happens upon some stale-looking rations in the middle of a dungeon floor. Of course, since this sort of thing is safe to eat, she immediately does so and feels all bloated and disgusting. Unlike in Nethack, overeating in Angband doesn't kill you. Unless you're stupid and do it in the middle of a room filled with monsters, because it does cause a massive speed penalty.

Having been taught never to binge and purge, Viki instead casts Satisfy Hunger. One of the curious effects of this prayer is that if you are overfull, it brings you back to "satiated" - the highest level of food which doesn't cause any ill effects.

At this point, Viki decides to take a vacation back to the surface.

I guess this wasn't strictly necessary, but Viki confirms that the cursed ring is, in fact, a ring of teleportation. Rooting through her pack she also finds that she was carrying a pair of +5 leather boots and puts those suckers on, and some magic items are sold, which brings her the ability to purchase some more scrolls of enchantment. Let's watch what happens!

Viki is now a death machine. If only her mace would actually hit more often; once again the store was out of to-hit enchantment scrolls. That's going to be it for enchanting it as far as damage goes - this is going to be Viki's weapon until she picks up an artifact she can wield, almost for certain.

Well, back into the dungeon! Viki picked up some recall scrolls, and reads one to jump herself back down to floor 5, where she immediately discovers a wand of Sleep Monster. This is something that gets stuck into her pack, because this is (a) not only more reliable than Sanctuary, it (b) costs nothing to use and (c) works at a distance. Naturally, she's going to forget that she's carrying it when she needs it most.

Viki gains another level and learns Resist Heat and Cold. This is actually an important spell for her - magical resistance to these elements will keep her spellbooks from burning, her scrolls and staves from going up in flames, and her potions from freezing and breaking their beakers.

There is another reason it's important. This reason is that Angband is a game of resistances, and there are two sources you can get it from - equipment, and magical means such as a spell or potion. Some monsters will hit you with elemental attacks so hard that unless in possession of both resistance sources, you will die no matter how much HP you have. This is because resistances don't stack - if one piece of armor gives you Resist Heat, it's useless to wear another that gives you the same. Essentially each 'resistance' cuts damage by 1/3rd - I forgot which monster it is, but I believe there's one later on that can breathe for 700+HP of unresisted damage.

As we learned back from Goofus' experience with the Potion of Death, the maximum character HP is 500. This is one of the few instances in which monster spoilers for Angband are necessary - if you had no idea such creatures existed, you'd just keep running down into the dungeon regardless of what resistances you were holding, when, and of what varieties.

Heading down deeper into the horrifying, inescapable pit, Viki discovers her first rod. Rods are sort of like the big brother of wands - they never run out of charges, but have a 'recharge' period during which they can't be used. Some of them, like a Rod of Sleep Monster, are among the most useful objects in the game. Some of them, like the one Viki just picked up (a Rod of Trap Detection) are completely useless.

Before long, Viki stumbles upon a trap tile that causes a little dart to shoot into her leg. Who knows exactly what it does, but she feels significantly weaker, and all that junk she's carrying starts to weigh her down even more heavily. She's just been hit by one of the more vile traps at this stage of the game, one which weakens a stat - the only way to regain them is to buy expensive (~400 gold) potions of stat restoration. But drinking one restores all lost points in that one particular stat - the problem is stumbling through several of these in succession. It can get pricey.

Naturally, the only appropriate response is to go back to town and buy one.

Recalling herself back into the dungeon, Viki gets a good feeling about the floor she's on. This is one of the best level feelings possible, and could actually indicate and artifact is hanging around at this depth. Such a thing would almost certainly be useless, and there would have to be actual number-crunching to determine if it would be worthwhile for Viki to wield a bladed artifact. Spoilers: [color=white]There's no artifact.[/color]

But this is the first floor in quite some time that Viki's going to have to cover all of.

For a moment, she thinks that the whole feeling might have been caused by this one monster. Snagas (o) are (o)rc monsters which usually travel in large groups... but for whatever reason, this one is alone. They're easily dealt with, and are one of the monsters vulnerable to light.

This means that it's awesome fun to line up a whole bunch of them in a tunnel and zap that wand of light until they're all turned into mush. In fact, this is the only reason Viki is carrying one.

But no. It wasn't that monster that caused that good level feeling. Oh no, no. It was Viki's second ego item, a Spear of Acid. Unfortunately, this weapon is edged and Viki won't wield it properly, but this would be a damn great find for just about any other character at this point in the game - almost as good as an artifact.

For any monster that doesn't resist acid, this does triple - triple! - damage before bonuses are added. The problem is that her combat skill is so low that she'd never land a hit with this weapon right now. That's how all brandings work, actually - they act as a multiplier on the base damage dice, sort of like how a bow works with arrows.

Viki still has space in her pack and hasn't been slowed down yet, so she decides to dive deeper.

At this point, if you'd like, you can imagine 'hallelujah' playing in the background. This is Viki's lucky day! Maybe there will be an artifact here. Spoiler: There's not!

Actually, it could very well be this that caused the level feeling. Chests are special items - they're always trapped and so you have to search for, and disarm, traps on them before opening. But they usually contain out-of-depth items or ridiculous amounts of treasure, and in fact a chest is already out-of-depth at this point in the game if I'm not mistaken. I forget exactly what was in the chest, but Viki had no problem disarming and opening it.

It's not much later than this that Viki hits a teleport trap and flies across the dungeon. Those things really can be a pain when you've explored a whole floor, but at this point it doesn't really matter much which part she's exploring, does it? Anyway, Viki heads west and south, and...

Oh my. This looks like it might be kind of dangerous. It's time for:

Viki's epic battle vs: Mughash the Kobold Lord

Now, back when I first mentioned that some uniques came with an escort, this is what I meant. That huge crowd of kobolds is going to be much more dangerous to Viki than any single unique monster could be at this point in the game. And what we're about to see is a textbook example of how to not handle this situation. But through some miracle, Viki doesn't die, so don't worry!

Actually, this is a very good situation for a unique monster to appear in. His entourage is blocked in by the yellow mold, meaning that they're just going to sit there - and even better, he has kobold archers (k) protecting him. Thinking back to the ancient past, I believe I mentioned that ranged monsters, once they have you in their sights, absolutely do not care about anything between you and them. That's why something is already screaming in pain in this screenshot.

Viki's strategy is simple. She's going to sit in this hallway and wait until the mold is dead (from having arrows shot into it) so that some of the archers can pick off the other monsters back there. Then, once the mold is gone, she's going to blast Orb of Draining straight into the middle of those monsters - and kobolds are "evil" creatures (despite Gon) so they'll take double damage from it.

But first, Viki's going to take a short detour and set up a little stash of heavy items which she doesn't need to be carrying around for the battle. There's no point in being slowed when fighting a large group of monsters like this, and none of them are going to steal this stuff, are they? Unless the level becomes overwhelmed with explosive growth monsters, she's not going to have a problem getting back here, either - and nothing important has been left behind, so if there's an emergency and she has to get her ass to Mars, nothing gets lost.

Viki goes back to her position at the end of the hallway and waits until this happens. It turns out that she could have been spamming Orb of Draining all over those monsters this whole time - I'd forgotten that you can target particular floor squares instead of particular monsters - but that would have been bad anyway.

Monsters only drop items when they're not surrounded by other things, and the less available squares they have around them, the less likely they are to drop something. This is why you always want to take out unique monsters in the middle of large rooms, where they're not surrounded by anything - to get the maximum amount of possible droppage.

So if Viki were blasting away at all these kobolds, if the unique got caught in the middle and destroyed with a bunch of gunk around him, it wouldn't have been worth it. She'd get decent experience, but the real lure of unique monsters is always their item drops.

And here's the aftermath of a couple Orb of Draining spells. Somewhere in the middle of it, Viki gained a level, but she doesn't have any time to learn spells right now - it's a matter of life and death!

It's time for Viki to start making her first few mistakes. For starters, she's still packing some SP when she puts on the teleportation ring, and should have buffed up as soon as the kobolds started heading straight for her. The reason she didn't fire off that last draining spell was in fact because she needed reserves for that exact kind of thing.

Teleportation rings make great emergency devices, but that's what they are - emergency devices, and this isn't an emergency yet. But they also have to be put on before the emergency happens, and you just hope they trigger at the right time. It's much smarter to use phase spells or scrolls.

But it turns out that Viki's ring triggers fairly quickly in this situation, 'this situation' being 'her running away from kobolds'. This is going to define her experience for this entire battle, actually. It consists of the following steps, repeated over and over:

(1) Full frontal assault without bothering to buff.

(2) Panic, which results in putting on the teleportation ring.

(3) Getting the hell out of there and resting until it's time to go kick some ass again.

Please imagine those three steps being repeated for about 1000 more lazy image pastiches and you've got the idea of what the fight to smush down the unique's posse was like.

In one of the rare instances where she warps around of her own free will, Viki runs into the Big Bad (comparatively) himself and immediately gets the heck out of there. The cycle of violence repeats for a while.

Viki, however, has a chance to take a breather at this point. She's killed almost all of the kobolds surrounding Mughsh, and is now just in search of a place to stage the final battle. Having encountered a lot of dark rooms lately - and the number of evil monsters is growing larger - she decides to crack open the first prayerbook and roll the dice on getting a semi-useful support spell.

Of course, she gets Slow Poison instead. Thanks God!

The kobolds are still in hot pursuit though, so it's not too long before Viki has to run back out into the hallway and then begin phasing about like mad. She finally ends up in this room - a nice, big staging area for a final battle, except that it's loaded down with a bunch of vermin. Easily taken care of with some handy magic, and before you know it, the room is cleared up and ready to have a bunch of kobold splattered all over it.

After waiting for a time, the vile foe finally bursts into the room where Viki is, with the very last of his minions in tow. Thinking that this is going to be a difficult, hard-fought battle, Viki drinks the last of her speed potions in order to gain a slight competitive advantage over her opponent.

A mere two shots of Orb of Draining later, this appears to have been quite a waste.

Yep. A mighty foe, felled by three casts of Orb of Draining. How anticlimactic.

Next time! Thrills! Adventure! Treasure! Excitement! Exclamation points!

< Part 13 | Main | Part 15 >