Originally posted by Phil
Thanks for this Let's Play. Angband has always overwhelmed me with its playstyle; although it's very, very different from Nethack, both are a little bit too large for my mindspace, I think. It'll be wonderful to watch you die^H^H^Hplay through this.

Gon is actually doing pretty well for himself as we'll maybe not hear in this update, but definitely the one after.

Let the update begin!

Welcome back! This update is going to be a little haphazard because I didn't take good enough notes about what happened in the game when I wasn't taking shots (both of the screen and liquor variety). At the end there's going to be a little poll about "what do you want to see more of," so stay sharp!

Back in the land of the mostly nonlethal, Gon immediately decides that the first thing he has to do is sell a bunch of the crap he picked up down in the dungeon. First stop: The alchemist, to get rid of a bunch of those weird scrolls and unpleasant-smelling potions. He has no idea what any of them are, so why not get rid of some?

In the early levels of the dungeon, there's a great way to ID magical items - the mystical "sell-ID". When you sell something, of course the shopkeeper immediately knows what it is, being a genius in their field (or having a stack of identify scrolls, whatever). Up until about levels 7-10 in the dungeon, most of what you encounter is going to be a mixed bag of low-level good combined with seemingly innocuous objects which will absolutely kill an unprepared player dead.

The money you make from selling the bad stuff helps even out what you lose by selling the good stuff, and gives you valuable ID information in the process.

It's worth noting that even though like all Roguelikes, Angband switches around which potions and scrolls are what every game, with a few exceptions - clear potions are always water, icky green potions are always slime mold juice, and light brown potions are always apple juice. It's not a coincidence that these are the only three potions whose only functions are to serve as food.

Fun historical Angband fact: Sell-ID was recognized as an exploit in earlier versions of the game, and because shops worked so differently in them - you couldn't just buy things at the listed price, you had to haggle for the correct one - shopkeepers would throw you out after selling them too many bad items and refuse to buy or sell to you until a new shopkeeper took up residence (usually in the neighborhood of 10-25k turns). Coincidentally, these were the versions where you didn't have the House in town to store items, so if you got booted from the alchemist shop in the early game you were seriously screwed.

Gon, though, is much luckier to be living in our modern and enlightened age where shopkeepers will suck it and just hope they can pawn the bad goods off on somebody who hasn't heard the legends about Goofus yet. This means he now has enough money to go from Cool Sword to Very Neat Sword, but unfortunately not far enough to get Awesome! Sword or anything ridiculous like that. He hasn't been selling his kidneys on the black market.

The kobold picks out a shiny new sabre, which is not only lighter than his current weapon and will make it easier to hit things with, it can also do a little more damage! It can do 1d7 damage - or for non-D&D players, the damage it does is determined by 1 roll of a 7-sided die. The downside of lighter weapons is that they're less likely to score a critical hit, but for reasons discussed later Gon will probably be wielding light weapons for at least half the game.

Gon also decides that it might be a good idea to go to the general store and pick up a shovel while he's at it, seeing as how his old sword got all bent and gross from prying apart rubble while he was busy leaving the dungeon.

And it's time to go back into the dungeon! This is where things get a little hazier - all I know is that Gon runs through a bunch of the typical level 1 monsters (molds, centipedes, ants, lizards, the occasional snake - you've seen them all by now) before finally encountering this:

It's another shiny glint in the wall! Since this one isn't just in a dark hallway, Gon takes a better look at it and realizes that it's a massive vein of copper running through the wall, and hefts his shovel up to start digging to get at the goods.

True to the status message, Gon has found something! It turns out to be a lump of copper ($), which is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of the mid-twenties in terms of gold (at which point I realize I have never explained: AU is the amount of gold we have, cleverly using the atomic symbol instead of just, say, GOLD).

Heading just south of where the last treasure was dug out of the walls, Gon encounters a massive empty room with strange-looking walls on one side of it. Actually, he's seen walls like that before - both around the treasure that he just dug out, and near what he wasn't able to get at earlier. Our dog-shaped friend also has a scroll of Detect Treasure hanging around in his knapsack, so why not read it? Maybe there's more nearby!

Gon's hunch was right! It's true - those off-colored walls indicate areas where treasure is most likely to be found. They signify either magma veins (much darker than usual) or quartz veins (slightly darker than usual), which is rare minerals and gems are found. Seeing a huge number of them hanging around is a good indicator to use Detect Treasure, if you've both got the means to cast it and the means to get at what it finds. They're also both much easier to dig through than the granite walls that make up most of the dungeon.

Eager to get at the goods, Gon digs through to the westernmost treasure with little hesitation. That eastern one looks like it might be kind of far away, though, so why not travel around the dungeon some more to see if there's a way to get closer to it? This results in a trip North and East.

And Gon finally runs into the first dangerous thing he's encountered on the floor! Green (w)orm masses are dangerous for two reasons: Worm-type monsters can make copies of themselves, and green monsters typically have acid-based melee attacks - and acid eats through armor, lowering the bonuses on it. Yes, bonuses can be below zero and I'm even fairly sure that they can go below the armor's base rating, making it a hindrance rather than a help.

However, worms are slow and stupid and right now Gon doesn't have anything particularly valuable anyway (and is flush with cash!) so he doesn't have any problem running in to kill the worm mass.

Seriously, that other worm wasn't there last turn. This sort of thing can get out of hand very easily, but there are ways to exercise containment and control on monsters like worms as long as it's not too far gone. Now it's just a short trip south to where Gon knows the treasure is - it's just over a hundred feet west of him, and there's a magma vein where he is. But his light's starting to go out, so better combine some torches before digging for that treasure, right?

You may not have believed that I was serious when I said light was a bigger problem than food in Angband. When the digging began, there were just over 1500 turns of light on the torch - after collecting the treasure, that's been almost cut by a third. Turns go by fast, and digging up treasure can take a lot of turns, making it one of the most dangerous activities to do if you might not have adequate light. Some players will even take off their light source (which causes it to stop losing turns) when digging, just to make sure it doesn't burn out.

All of that physical activity doesn't even make a dent in our food needs, by the way.

Gon doesn't care about any of this, though; He's got his treasure and he's eager to keep exploring.

That orange R there is a salamander, a member of the liza(R)d family. An intense battle isn't about to happen at all, and in fact all Gon has to do to take care of a monster like this is shoot a couple of arrows into it. But salamanders are dangerous because they - being an orange-red colored monster - have fire-based melee attacks. Fire burns books and scrolls, but fire immunity (and I believe even fire resistance) will stop this from happening.

You can see why you would never want, say, a mage to confront a salamander or any other monster with fire powers head on. By the end of a successful (and many an unsuccessful) game, mages (or even a lesser spell user, like a rogue) will be carrying 3-5 copies of the beginner's spellbook just in case a few of them get burned up along the way, and crazily enough, the beginner spellbook has some of the most useful spells in the game in it.

But something far more exciting awaits Gon down at the end of that southern hallway.

It's a dog! Under non-dungeon circumstances Gon usually gets on pretty well with dogs, since one of them was probably his great great great great great great great great aunt or something, but this dog is fairly intent on biting off his face, and is also significantly stronger than the other canine-type monsters we've seen so far. Yes, this dog has a name: this dog is Grip, one of Farmer Maggot's two dogs, and it is a unique monster.

Unique monsters are monsters which have two properties in common: They're named, and so they're unique, and once they die they're dead for the rest of the game. Unique monsters are also significantly harder than monsters found at the same depth, usually have special abilities, and more often than not leave extraordinary loot behind. Some of the later uniques aren't so dangerous themselves as they are for the fact that they come with an entourage of tens of (if not a hundred) monsters in their entourage, with the ability to summon more.

By the way, we're going to want to kill as many uniques as we can along the way not just because they give great stuff, but because Gon has heard rumors floating around Adventureville that Morgoth can summon any undefeated unique monster to his side.

Anyway, with his level 4 superpowers, Gon proves to be a mighty foe for Grip the Dog, and stabs him several times before shooting him when he tries to run away. And gets a level out of it! And what a level it is. Gon gets the impression that he finally knows enough about the world to understand some basic magic without just reading it off a scroll, and instead can read it out of a book. So he cracks open that spellbook he's been carrying since he got to town.

Each of these spells are going to be explained in turn as we get them, but for now we're going to focus on Detect Monsters. This does exactly what it says: It detects all non-invisible monsters on the screen, and displays them to the player. This is excellent for finding ambushes when playing cautiously and also for a few other exceptional situations, but for the most part it's useless to Gon. Practically every monster he'd be interested in finding via magical means is invisible.

Despite the fact that he still hasn't gained any mana from all those level ups, Gon dutifully studies the spell and learns it. Now he just has to refer back to the book whenever he wants to cast it.

Seriously. Angband's spell system irks the hell out of me on a practical level but from a gameplay perspective it's absolutely necessary.

But enough of that, there are more twisty little passages (mostly alike) to explore!

Gon doesn't get to explore for too long before he runs into Grip's brother. Unfortunately, while Fang is probably pretty eager to avenge his brother's untimely death and is actually a little stronger than he was, he's no match for a level 5 rogue. Especially Gon.

With that out of the way, Gon follows through the south passage.

And he comes across this ugly situation. Well, not quite - when Gon came into this room there were just two worms, the (i)cky thing, and another monster or two. Thinking that he could handle everything easily by being quiet, Gon went in to do a murder on the nearest monster, but his first footstep must have hit something on the ground because the worms immediately woke up and went into explode mode. By the time the monster was dead, the ugly scene here is what had happened.

Naturally, the only response is to run behind the door and close it. This is the "containment" strategy for dealing with replicating monsters; Close a door (or doors) and hope for the best. It seals off an entire segment of the dungeon though, so you better hope that it's been explored and doesn't contain anything good. It's also worth noting that somewhere along the way Gon picked up some iron spikes, items which you can jam into a door to essentially make it openable only by attacking it with the bash command. Since worms can't open doors, there's no need for that here, but when running from stronger monsters it doesn't hurt to have a little backup.

This is where things get fuzzy again. Gon makes straight for the stairs downwards, since he's explored this floor as much as he needs to (and can, with the worms overrunning everything) and heads into the third level of the dungeon for the first time. The monsters here aren't nasty enough to start showcasing yet; it's just more of the same. However...

Gon runs into this nasty bastard.

Smeagol is the first unique monster that's going to give even a well-equipped player a lot of trouble. He's warm-blooded, so you can see him through infravision, but is invisible (I have a huge problem with this - wouldn't he have to be wearing the One Ring to be invisible?) and even worse, gets two moves for your every one and can steal money from you.

Stealing money is one of the worst things in the very early game. Having a high dexterity can prevent it from happening, but stealing is an attack that takes 10% of your total gold, after which the monster teleports about 10-15 squares away if it succeeds. For uniques, this is really bad - they heal faster than normal monsters, and if they teleport far enough away the pathfinding algorithms don't kick in and they'll wander around for the whole level until you get close enough again. This could be hundreds of turns, more than enough time to heal up. The best place to fight Smeagol is in the middle of a large room, where his teleportation won't be so much of an issue.

Needless to say, Gon isn't prepared to deal with Smeagol yet. He decides to get out of here. Well, not quite yet - after a short battle of attrition which results in nothing, Gon realizes he can pick up a little more loot and probably avoid Smeagol for a while. Need to replace some of that money that was stolen, after all.

Then this happens. Gon unwisely decides to take on an immobile monster heads on, the silver (j)elly. I don't know of any other monster in the game that does this, but the silver jelly drains your light source as part of its attack. Naturally this is really awful, and Gon has to switch over to his last torch, which means it's time to cut his losses and leave the dungeon.

Here's his haul this time, including the torch which can no longer be lit. Not bad! He was running out of arrows too, and running out of arrows is never a good thing.

In order to leave the dungeon safely from this depth, Gon decides to read his Word of Recall scroll. This is a handy little item which, when you read it in the dungeon, waits a few turns and then pulls you up into the town level and when read in town, teleports you down to the deepest level of the dungeon you've been to.

Actually, it's nighttime, and Gon is pretty tired from his fantastic adventures by now. A full day of adventuring means that he needs to get his beauty rest, so he goes home and takes a nap.

NEXT TIME: Gon feels his luck is turning!

POLL TIME: At this point, I think I've got the hang of how to capture the flow of the game pretty reasonably and just need to take better notes. This is where you, the viewers, come in. After all, this is a "Let's Play," and there are a lot of ways to play Angband. By the end of the next update how the dungeon works will almost have been completely covered, and then it's going to boil down to fantastic battles and wicked awesome loot.

So you're going to decide what you want to see. Tell me what you want to know about the game, and I'll find ways to demonstrate it! But there are two ways we can start playing the game for the next couple updates (or a hybrid of the two strategies, if you like):

- Gon can stay around the lower levels of the dungeon, in the range of probably 4-6 for his current level, heading further downwards as it becomes safer. This is by no means a sure way to avoid death, but increases the chances of his survival. The downside is that progress won't be slowed just by grinding, but also because he won't get equipment as fast. This will also give him a chance to get revenge on Smeagol for taking his money.
- Gon can engage in a practice known as "diving". This is where you run as deep as you can, as far as you can, as fast as you can - the only objective is to get items and get out before you die. Needless to say this is extremely dangerous, but there are monsters around floors 7-9 that Gon will be able to take down reasonably safely and gain good amounts of experience from. I've rarely, if ever, dived, so we'd all be going into uncharted waters.
- A hybrid of these two strategies is called "scumming". The name is a little derogatory, but it's valid and widely-used in almost every game. The idea is that you rove around between floors, usually two adjacent ones, until you get a good (non-boring) level feeling and then roam around to pick up all the best items. Gon can probably scum around levels 6-8, where he'll start picking up enough money to begin enchanting his equipment, an important step in a character's progression, but not get anything really cool.

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