Oldbark left off back in Lothlorien, having just appeased Tulkas and learning how to pray. That done, he can return to his original pursuit: scourging the bowels of the Barrow-Downs. With that in mind, he travels back to Bree to smear some minor orcs over the walls.

He's also filling in the overworld at a prodigious rate. Maybe he thinks that if he explores every square he'll find an ent-wife? LotR lore: long ago, all of the female ents just up and vanished one day, and the male ents have never been able to find where they went.

He enters BDw 1 in order to reset his Scrolls of Recall, but... a fate? He had one? That's worrying. It means I wasn't paying attention when it popped up, and so I didn't divine it and find out what I was walking into.

This fate seems pretty innocuous, though.

Seems he was fated to meet that aimless-looking merchant (a weak, useless town NPC) on level 1. They don't normally spawn here otherwise. Kinda wish he'd been fated to find something useful (maybe an artifact!), or at least given the opportunity to kill a unique, but oh well. At least it wasn't 'fated to DIE', which spawns you in a giant arena level with monsters from depths of up to like 100 floors. Last time I got one of those, Gothmog, Captain of the Balrogs rained fiery death on my poor low-level sack of meat from across the map.

Anyways, one turn later, Oldbark reads a scroll of recall. This resets his recall location to this dungeon (as opposed to the lost temple). Once he appears back in bree, he reads another one to warp back into the barrow-downs, except this time, he picks up where he left off.

Boy, there sure are a lot of princesses in this world. Tolkien must have left something out. One noxious cloud, however, is sufficient to clear out all of these low-level brown yeeks in a single turn. Out of the rewards, he chooses a crossbow.

Also, I found a manly potion. As terrible an idea as it is, I really really want to drink it. :( Thankfully, Oldbark isn't as hasty as I am.

What's this? A second type of quest? It's about time.

... to a giant slug? I'm not sure anybody should help him. He'd probably trip and impale you while thanking you.

To clear this quest, we have to kill x amount of monsters. Unlike the princess quests, however, these monsters are scattered throughout the level, instead of being trapped in one room. This means you play the level... just like you would in Angband, except you get a prize at the end. Let's get to it!

Being massively overlevelled means we can just walk through the monsters here without incident. Even if they're giant, and slugs. Or even a slug that has a sword.

Also, at about this point the structure of the barrow-downs starts changing. The mountains (^s) start disappearing, to be replaced with trees. And ents can walk through trees, as shown here. This makes exploration of the levels go even more quickly.

Along the way, we pick up a nice coaligned firebird. Cool. This thing does decent damage for this dungeon level, too. Oftentimes it clears half the room while Oldbark is clearing the other half, since it's so fast. Unfortuantely, since it's not a companion, it only sticks around for this floor, but the thought is greatly appreciated.

Anyways, Bark smears the last of the slugs into a brownish paste, and the adventurer teleports over out of the shadows. He thanks us profusely, and offers to... join us? wtf? He lost his sword to a bunch of slugs, and he thinks he can help us?

hahahah yeah uh NO, shadow-teleport notwithstanding.

He's not done yet, though. He has to do something, he feels. And so he offers us knowledge.

That's more like it. Except... weaponmastery? Necromancy? What is he trying to pull, here?

Bark goes with necro on a lark, just because he can (not archery, because he'll use wands for ranged damage). And so a hypocrisy is born: an ent, guardian of living things, that has learned some of the secrets of perverting death. Or something. I think he was just curious.

'Fumblefingers' quests, as that poor adventurer is affectionately called, aren't mandatory in the same sense that princess quests are (princess quests aren't really mandatory either, but at least she hides the stairs). You can just skip them. Like with these stairs over here, which we'll be using now.

Seriously, someone get this guy a scroll of recall. I mean, at least he lost his sword to something human this time, but still.

Since combat right about now really isn't too interesting, I thought I'd see what these guys could actually do, instead of murdering them out-of-hand. And... well, they're kinda annoying. They hit for nothing, but their spells (which they almost never cast) could make life miserable for someone new to the game, who didn't know any better and went straight into the Downs as his first action in the game.

Bark spent the time composing a new song in Entish.

Much better choices this time. Our best choices are either magic, which mostly governs how many spell points you have (as of now, we have 25, but that will change once we start finding stat-up potions and bring that INT up to something respectable), or spirituality, which governs saving throw. Of course, when I write it out like that, it's obvious. Spirituality it is.

Next quest is another princess quest. If you were curious, these are the only two types in the game. You may find that distressing, just reading about it, but it's really not all that bad. You get awesome loot, and it's not like you had much else to do on the boring initial levels like this anyways.

The lead-filled mace is pretty tempting, so we pick that.

The next level is another princess quest (for Driders, this time), but as our inventory is overflowing it's time to warp back out.

fuck yeah

Also, the mace goes for quite a lot. Defender's a great egotype, and the game seems to agree. With this much gold, our next purpose can be fulfilled.

First, we buy a couple scrolls of *identify*, though.

Then we travel to Gondolin. Up in a corner, in an easy-to-miss spot, is a thunderlord nest. They perform various services, such as recalls and... teleportation. To a specific dungeon-level. And you can write the name of the dungeon in manually.

Orc Cave 21 approaches! Command?

Huh? What kind of a level feeling is that? And why is the level named Deathwatch?

Oldbark emerges from his little corner of the level into a giant, open room, filled with orcs. Instantly his eyes dilate, and he screams, and wakes them all up. It's on.

They are quite overmatched, especially with his ring of invisibility. They know he's there, but they can't see him, so they just wander around erratically. For some odd reason, he can still be targetted by arrows and spells, however. He makes it a priority to finish off the shamans and archers first.

Heading north, there are still more orcs. This seems to be a dead end, though.

Or is it? Tunneling in the right spot (most of the walls are invincible) reveals a piece of equipment lying on the ground.

  • Identify* it, and you get...

hot damn. Except he can't wear it now, because one of those shamans cursed his current armor. :(

Heading west from the large room instead, Oldbark stumbles across a unique and his retinue. You know what this means.

Time to stop them from breathing. Have I mentioned how good Noxious Cloud is yet?

This orc has some swagger to him. Oldbark decides to draw him out, so he can kill him in an empty spot and make it easier to identify whose loot is whose.

He drops nothing of note. A couple weapons with (+3,+5) or something useless like that.

Heading north, he hits the barracks. After rampaging through, he discovers another breakable wall. Behind it is a sword.

Swordmasters have it so easy.

We're not done with the level yet, though. The toughest part is just ahead.

When I said 'toughest', that implied that these enemies would actually damage Oldbark. My apologies. They're too busy dying to do much. There's another unique around here, though. Luckily for him, Oldbark picked up a second type of wand from one of his minions: a wand of Fireflash.

He points it at the unlucky orc unique.

Awwww, lame. It murders a few orcs out-of-hand, though. And not only does it have a pretty big radius, it sometimes leaves behind pools of lava.

Oldbark pastes Golfimbul against the wall as per usual, and then notices a glove all the way out here, by its lonesome. *ID* reveals...

The third, and last, guaranteed artifact on this special level. This replaces his gloves of agility.

We're done here. The stairs down are hidden behind a couple more tunnelable walls, but Bark finds them, and heads down.

This is Orc Cave 22, not coincidentally the last level in this side dungeon. Bark shoots off his wand of noxious cloud at these Ogrillions and prepares to read a scroll of Recall when... wait what?

Let's check that again.

fucking hounds. nexus breath grumble grumble. They did manage to do something useful, quite on accident, however: it turns out 21f is a dungeon town level! It has shops that sell lots of stuff you can't get anywhere else. Bark decides not to recall himself to the surface quite yet. Note that, while the level ID may say deathwatch, that's a bug -- deathwatch only occurs the first time you hit Orc Cave 21, and once you leave, it's gone forever.

the... the variant maintainer? What kind of a name is that? And indeed, it's not a regular enemy. I turned joke enemies on waaaaay back when I started the game, and this is the first one that's popped up.

Along the way, we discover location of the town. We also discover that the Maintainer has confuse breath, and can summon mass-breeding monsters.

Let's take this seriously. Bark quaffs a potion of speed and prepares to bear down on the Maintainer with all his might...

And the maintainer dies in one wave of the fireflash wand. That was anti-climactic.

The shops around here are pretty interesting. You may laugh at the footwear shop, but that'd be your folly - it can generate Boots of Speed. The demongear shop is useless to our character, unfortunately, but the potion shop is a nice source of cure insanity.

Another unique, this time Gon's queen, sits just outside the town. Being overloaded with gear, Bark tries to play nice and not antagonize them, and he finishes his rounds of the town.

That's a pretty nice cloak! It's very worth the 10k it costs, which is conveniently barely within Bark's purse to pay. He grabs it and steps outside to try it out. But not before the Kobolds outside wake up and hear his Ent self haggling with the shopkeep.

They attack en mass, ignoring his protestations that he's Gon's friend, and that he doesn't want to fight. He keeps that up for a long while, until one gets close enough for melee... and nicks his new cloak.

Oh man, all bets are off.

Fireflash one-shots Vort too. Silly queen. She really didn't know what she was getting into. It's a good thing too, because Kobolds, being poisonous, resist noxious cloud a lot. While Oldbark was probably not in any real danger, if he was surrounded it could have been alarming.

Anyways, Oldbark's done here. He warps back up to the surface. At this point, the early game is done, and while he still has to polish off the last levels of the barrow-downs (after buying a ring of resist fire) and maybe clear the Orc Caves level by level, the game is opening up in front of him. It's a good place to end this update.

This is his status right now, after selling all of the stuff he got from his jaunt in the dungeon.

You'll notice the book of divine aim. I was planning on buying that before hitting up deathwatch, but silly me forgot. Also, we never saw a good musical instrument either. It's kind of sad, really.

Unfortunately for his class, the chronicles of Oldbark, the ent bard who never sang, ended here. Stiv will be taking the reigns of this LP back shortly, and this is the last update that will feature Oldbark. I know I haven't quite measured up to Stiv, but if you guys at all enjoyed this then I've done my job, so I'm happy.

also, monks are hard to play once you get past the point where noxious cloud is good (about floor 30), and I'd probably get him killed if I kept going on for much longer, hah


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