Turns out I'm on schedule anyway! With the discussion of basic mechanics almost completed, these updates are going to get much less graphics heavy and much more text-heavy (to the point where every single update here is going to break the post character limit, so there might be some odd inter-post transitions), as I switch to writing from my notes from taking 5000 screenshots and sorting through all of them to find what I ID'd and sold. Don't worry, some of that is still going to show up, and this time Gon has a lot of incredible, tense battles to show off.

Last time we left Gon, he had just made it back to town. He decides that now is an excellent time to sell off the useless potions that he's carying, and dumps the slow poison and neutralize poison potions that he's carrying off on the alchemy shop. Who needs those when you have intrinsic poision immunity?

In return, he buys a couple of identify scrolls to figure out what kind of goodies he's carrying.

Nothing really spectacular. That cap is going to sell for a pitance, and those object detection scrolls aren't even worth selling - they might come in handy a little later on too, if Gon is exploring a dangerous area on a floor with a good feeling, so he can determine where a few of the objects are.

Now it's time to get rid of that wand he's carrying.

Since this is Gon's first trip to the magic shop, it's worth showing off the sort of things they sell; the books for mage-derived classes (mages, rangers, and rogues), wands (which affect monsters), staves (which affect the player, or groups of monsters), and rings. Take a look at how expensive those teleportation staves are; that's because these are one of the most useful items in the game. You can't read scrolls while confused, but you can use a staff, although at a penalty to success. You might imagine that while confused in a group of monsters, this can really save your ass.

Enlightenment is almost as good. It acts as a supply of identify scrolls, and although maybe you haven't seen what Gon has been paying for them (72 gold a shot), you might notice this is a bit more pricey - it costs more than twice as much as 10 scrolls. This is because you can get scrolls (and even staves!) of recharging, which refuel some, or most, of a staff's charges. A clever player can turn this 10-charge staff into 20 or even 30+ charges.

Rings of feather falling are situationally useful for mostly low-level characters. They cause any kind of trap which drops you through the floor (pits, spiked pits, trapdoors) to not cause damage.

Gon's not here to buy, though; he's here to sell! That wand of trap/door destruction he picked up gets sold for a pittance of 80 gold. What a ripoff.

Gon then takes a visit to the weapon store to sell off his old shovel (yes, it's technically a weapon), his old shield, and his old cap.

Now, he's holding around 425 gold, and realizes that it's probably time to start enchanting his weapons.

He stops in the alchemy shop and picks up a couple scrolls of Enchant To-Dam, and then uses them on his bow. Since the plan is to go Smeagol-hunting, it's actually smarter to enchant his bow before his melee weapon, for reasons that will be explained pretty soon!

Mechanics time! Wait a minute, aren't there two items involved in shooting? The bow itself, and the arrows? Which one should you enchant? Skip to the big red X if you don't want to know.

The short answer is "It doesn't matter." The longer, more correct answer is "Always the bow."

You might have noticed the (x3) after the name of the bow. This means that for any missile weapon that's appropriate for a bow (any arrow) has whatever damage was rolled for it multiplied by 3. So what if there's a damage bonus on the arrows? Well, like usual, it gets added to the damage the arrow is going to do after the dice are rolled. What if there's a damage bonus on the bow? It gets added to the damage of the arrow before the multipler is applied. This means whatever enchantment is on your bow, it's essentially the bow's multiplier x3 (in this case, the +2 really means +6).

So why enchant the bow instead of the arrows, if both bonuses are added before the multiplier is applied? There are two reasons: First, arrows are only there for as long as you're using them and a bow is forever. And second, the more arrows you have in the stack you're holding (Gon has consistently held 20-30 before heading into the dungeon), the harder it is for the enchantment to succeed - that's right, enchantments can fail, and almost always will after a certain point. Enchanting stacks of arrows larger than about 20 is a fool's errand.

Picking up enchanted arrows is always a nice little bonus, but creating them yourself is almost never a good idea.

History time! I was dreading explaining shooting mechanics for one reason: In older versions of Angband, the multiplier was applied only to bonuses on arrows, and then after that, the enchantment on the bow was added as a flat bonus. This was one of the deep, dark secrets of bow enchanting that made characters who had reasonable skills with magic always carry wands of magic missile (or other magic bolts) instead up until a certain point (when they'd get a really awesome bow).


Okay, enough of that. Gon also picks up a few torches, because he realizes that right before he teleported out of the dungeon he was going to run completely out of light. Oops.

Heading down into the dungeon, Gon realizes that the first floor is perhaps not quite as bad as usual. It's still not the best place to hang around, but while exploring Gon finds a few things - a little bit of treasure, an ID scroll, and a potion of cure light wounds. As requested, we'll talk a little bit about how curing potions work when it's time, which will happen later this update.

Heading further down to level two - which is boring, according to Gon's highly refined sense of what's going on in the dungeon - he picks up quite a lot of treasure, refuels his torch, and gets another ID scroll. So far there hasn't been a single encounter with a monster that's worth mentioning! Gon's just slicing through all this stuff at his current level.

Level 3 of the dungeon also doesn't seem all that interesting. But Gon notices a series of walls that could have treasure behind them, and reads one of his scrolls of treasure detection.

Oh my goodness look at all that fantastic loot! Hooray! And with his brand-new awesome shovel, Gon doesn't have to worry too much about digging it all out - those two buried treasures just to the left of him would take up almost as light as eventually digging it all out now!

In fact, let's take a look at how much light digging is actually going to use now, just for kicks.

Almost exactly 200 turns! Remember back when Gon dug the same distance and it reached almost 1000? This shovel is seriously AWESOME. Now there won't be any problems with getting all of the world's tastiest treasures. In fact, digging up that next treasure to the west only takes another 200 turns.

Dungeon exploration continues! Gon runs across some things that might be kind of neat - some crossbow bolts, a whip, a short bow, and a few potions which he hasn't ID'd yet. It turns out that the whip he's carrying is just your everyday, ordinary whip, and so he dumps it. At this point he shouldn't be carrying anything which will sell less for 60 gold.

Coming into the northernmost part of the dungeon, Gon catches a group of big spiders (S) sleeping. This won't be a problem for him, right?

Well, at least until a few of them wake up. Apparently he's not being quiet enough while trying to beat a couple of them into submission, and this indicates a little bit of danger - Gon might have some good armor going on right now, but he's not going to be a good match for a large group like this, especially surrounded.

In fact, the best strategy for dealing with huge number of monsters, whether they come in a group or not, is to lure them into a hallway and take them out one-by-one so that you can't possibly get surrounded. Some of the game settings I'm using can make this a mistake, but there's only one way for the spiders to get at Gon, so this is safe.

So Gon reads one of his scrolls of Phase Door. His success rate for the spell is still too low right now to make it a reliable way to get out of there, which means that scrolls are the way to go. Gon pushes his way back down the hallway, getting rid of a few spiders in the process, and foolishly stumbles into the room again.

One of the spiders manages to snag Gon with a hideous spider leg, and gives him a light, superficial cut. Gon's taken plenty of hits, but this one is a bit worse than usual.

Even though Gon doesn't use one here, it's time to explain both how cuts and healing potions work, because they're very strongly related. This won't take too long; a cut is essentially blood loss, and drains your HP, but heals naturally over time. Depending on the type of wound, they last different amounts of time - the worst cut, of course, is *MORTAL*, which cannot be healed except through magical means. Think of it as having your stomach cut open.

Healing potions are simple too. Each of them restores a fixed amount of HP (for the curious: One of the few changes I like about 3.1.0b is that healing potions now scale to a percentage of your total HP) and heals a certain amount of cut damage. Internally a cut is represented by a counter that goes down every turn, and healing potions remove points from it.

Out of phasing scrolls, Gon barely manages to escape with his life. He can rest up relatively safely here, and when heading back towards the room he realizes that the bow he's carrying is good. IDing it, he discovers that it's a short bow (x2) (+6, +4).

Gon does some math. If he gets the best possible damage with this bow, he'll get a hit of 12. If he does the least possible damage, he gets 6. With his current bow, which has a bigger multiplier but only a +2 to damage, the least possible damage he can do is 5 and the most possible damage he can do is 14.

On average, the short bow is probably better (especially with its to-hit bonus) but Gon realizes that it'll fetch him MAD cash back in town. So he resolves to sell it.

Using his newfound intelligence and a reminder that he has a bow, Gon picks off the rest of the spiders from a distance, cleaning up those that get close enough to him. Once again, he barely manages to escape, and starts wondering if it's really all that wise of him to keep fighting spiders - even though they're lower-level monsters, they're fast, and they come in big groups. Dangerous combinations.

Heading east and a little bit south, Gon stumbles into a trap. He inadvertently puts one of his little feet on a pressure-sensitive tile, and a dart shoots from the wall and into his neck. All of a sudden, he feels like he wants to go and take a nap.

Mechanics time! It's time to explain speed and turns. I've been dreading this, because Angband's turn system is ridiculous. If you don't want to learn about speed - and I can't blame you - never listen to a Motorhead album and also skip to the big red X.

Welcome to Angband's turn system. It's not overly complicated, and was briefly explained a little earlier in the thread by dwolfe, but here's the nitty-gritty.

In Angband's main event loop, there's a point where the player's speed is checked. The base speed isn't 0; a player's base speed is actually 120 (it seems). The game considers this to be speed + 0. You might notice that Gon has speed -10 right now. Here's what happens. There's a lookup table where speed is mapped to an integer number, which determines what "energy" you get from that speed. Normal speed gives you 10, speed -10 gives you 5 (halving your energy) and speed +10 gives you 20 (doubling your energy).

This energy is added to a counter in the event loop. The same process is done for monsters, and whenever you gain 100 energy, which is how much an "action" (anything which requires physical movement; for example, checking your inventory doesn't take energy) costs, you get to take a turn. The same goes for monsters; this is why the spiders get two turns to your one, they have speed +10.

Some monsters have very odd values for speed. What this does is leave a little "remainder" after each action they get to take, which slowly accumulates to the point where they get a "bonus" turn on you. You might have seen this occur with snakes (J) in some of the earlier screenshots.

There's an interesting side-effect of this: There is no additional penalty for going below speed -50 (but if you reach that, you're going to be dead anyway) and there is no additional bonus for going above speed +70. The fastest monster in the dungeon is speed +30, and it's generally regarded that the ideal speed for a player at the end of the game is speed +35. After this point the bonuses for speed start becoming so minuscule that it's not worth raising it any higher.

You aspiring programmers out there who want to make any kind of strategy game could learn a lot from Angband's speed system. It's an elegant way to deal with tiered speed, where speed isn't always just "I have two turns for your one turn, all the time."


Gon takes a brief rest, and then notices the tile that caused him to feel all gross. He disarms the trap easily.

Heading south, Gon runs into a clear (w)orm mass, which is a monster I couldn't get a good screenshot of unfortunately. But you can probably guess what it is - an invisible monster that has explosive growth. Gon, having very good infravision, isn't going to be too threatened by this (they only have normal melee attacks), but I've had lots of games when playing a human or a race with poor infravision where I got surrounded by clear worms and died.

West of this, Gon encounters one of the most prized items of the early adventurer - the lantern! Now he can start using those flasks of oil, and it used to be that a lantern was one of the first things a player would buy in the general store. Now, they apparently don't show up there anymore, so finding one is a serious bonus. Filling a lantern gives an additional 7000 turns of light, and unlike torches, they always light a 2-square radius around the player. Torches only light a 2-square radius as long as they have more than 1500 turns left.

Picking up the lantern means that it's time for a trip back to the surface, since Gon's inventory is full now. He's going to keep those torches around for a while, since they've still got plenty of light to give, but at the earliest sign that he needs to get rid of them they're getting tossed.

Actually, there are other things to get tossed first - Gon's pseudo-ID goes to work, and he discovers that not only are the two sets of bolts he picked up the same (allowing him to combine them into a single stack in his bag - you can't combine like items until they're guaranteed to have the same bonuses on them), but somewhere along the way he picked up a set of cursed arrows. Those get tossed pretty fast. There's also a set of cursed gloves to get rid of. This allows Gon to pick up a pair of robes on his way up - after all, they could be enchanted!

Finally, Gon reaches the town, and gets to ID the stuff he's carrying.

See, it was smart of him to pick up those worthless-looking robes! The +5 one is even better than his current armor, so he's going to put it on. Light armor doesn't affect to-hit or anything (in most cases), but it will allow Gon to carry some heavier items when picking up treasure, which is its main advantage.

This being Gon's first trip to the temple (or church, whatever), it's time to show what's in it. Naturally, the books for the priest-derived classes (priest, paladin) are available here. So are the more priestly potions and scrolls, used for healing and granting powers usually conferred by priest spells. The temple also sells non-edged weapons; as you can see, a lot of them are heavy. The few times I've played a priest I've been particularly fond of the quarterstaff, because (as you might recall from the critical hit summary) it guarantees the best kind of critical.

Still preparing to take on Smeagol, Gon picks up five Cure Serious Wounds potions. These will heal up around 20hp, which in retrospect, is probably not enough. Those Cure Critical Wounds potions are damn expensive though.

Gon stops in the alchemy shop next, to unload his mystery otions and the slow poison that he doesn't need. It turns out that one of the mystery potions he sells off is something he'll need for Smeagol - a potion of detect invisible. This works like the scrolls, but lasts for several turns instead of just one, meaning that it'll be easy to track him for the strategy that's going to be used to take him down. A few to-hit enchantments are picked up, and he also gets 15 Phase Door scrolls, which are just what they sound like; these are going to be for emergencies and, again, for the strategy used against Smeagol.

Actually, let's talk about that strategy right now, since I've mentioned it so many times already.

Gon's going to engage in a strategy that's useful against fast monsters when fighting in a large room, called "shoot and scoot." It's what it sounds like: Gon takes as many shots with his bow as he can until the monster comes into melee range, and then "scoots" with a Phase Door spell, then repeats. This is intended to prevent Smeagol from doing any damage to Gon, but more importantly, will keep him from stealing and then teleporting. Naturally, he's going to have to be able to see Smeagol to do this effectively, which is what the potion of detect invisible is for.

Shoot and scoot is a great strategy to use against almost any tough, solitary monster which doesn't have ranged attacks.

This time, the enchantments are divided up more or less evenly. Since the bow is still more important right now, it gets the lion's share, but Gon really needs to start doing better damage in melee by now.

Finally Gon sells the bow and the rest of his junk - and selling the bow was the right decision, since it nets him almost 700 gold. Back into the dungeon, courtesy of a recall scroll! This puts him on a boring-looking Level 4.

Finally, an interesting monster. (p)aladins are like novice (p)riests, but they attack like hell and are more likely to put The Fear into Gon. This makes them extremely dangerous opponents - if they're at close enough range when they scare you, it's difficult to get away, and as you might imagine bows don't work very well at close range. Each tile represents 10 feet, and an enemy usually has to be at least one tile away for a missile weapon to work effectively.

Shooting down a blue jelly that destroyed one of his potions, Gon levels up and gains his Detect Treasure spell. This is interesting because Detect Treasure is one of a very small handful of spells in the game that mages and rangers can't learn, but rogues can. Fortunately, it's not his detect invisible potion that was ruined, and he picks up another one on this floor. By now Gon is carrying enough equipment to almost take down an army of Smeagols!

Coming into the northeasternmost part of the map, Gon sees a novice warrior (p) chasing after him. But it's not very far away, and if he moved in, it would be able to hit him before he even had a chance to return the blow - so he waits, and the warrior foolishly rushes towards him.

This is one of the better common strategies in Angband. Monsters will get a free hit on you if you move in next to them, and likewise you get a free hit on them if they move in next to you.

And seeing the blue jelly just around the corner, Gon realizes that he can shoot around the pillar between him and it. This is another common Angband strategy, where a player takes advantage of the sometimes-funky line of sight code to fire a projectile into a monster that shouldn't (physically) be able to get hit with it. For characters with low stealth this can be a godsend, since it may not require much, if any, movement from a current position.

Heading south and coming across a room with a multitude of sleeping monsters, Gon foolishly walks into it.

After he steps in, almost all of them immediately wake up and begin harassing him. Right now the biggest danger is the black (n)aga, but the jackals (C) have Gon surrounded and this causes a problem - he's going to have to hack through them to get to the exit of the room, which will give the naga some free hits. If he tries to take out the naga first, he's going to be completely surrounded and take ridiculous amounts of damage from the yappy dogs. The natural solution is to cut through them first.

Finally, Gon manages to make his way through all of them and get to the door! From here it's a simple task to get rid of the naga and contain all those nasty (r)ats so that they don't get all over the place.

It's been quite a day, but it's also not time for Gon to go back to town yet.

Next time! Gon ventures further into the dungeon, gets himself into more sticky situations, and discovers what it's like to feel true terror.

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