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Old 06-02-2021, 06:59 AM   #1
Huinesoron
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Sting How to Kill Morgoth: Playing Angband

  • Buy a torch
  • Go down lots of stairs
  • Kill Morgoth

This is Angband, a 30-year-old Roguelike video game in which you... well, see above! The gameplay consists in large part of fighting monsters and taking their stuff. "Monsters" range from generic D'n'D types, through Orcs and Wargs and suchlike, to named Tolkien characters - Wormtongue is particularly pleasurable to finally murder. "Stuff" is your standard magic potions and scrolls, weapons and armour, and a large number of Middle-earth-based artefacts - canon characters' swords and armour, or invented items carrying Sindarin names.

As a Roguelike, the 'graphics' consist of ASCII characters forming the map, so for example:

#####
#. @ .#
# . . . #
#. U .#
#####

Player character (@) fights balrog (U) in small room.

Despite that, it can be really fun to play, and to find out what pieces of Tolkien you're going to encounter on the next level.

It's also brutally hard. I'm not the greatest at computer games, but in 42 games I've only made it past level 30 (out of 100) three times. My best character died on level 56 of the dungeon - barely over halfway to Morgoth. I don't think I'll be killing him any time soon...

To keep myself from going crazy, I've made myself a rule that I will play the same character (race, class, name, and description) over and over until they hit dungeon level 30 (1500' underground). Once they reach that marker, they become the last bearer of their name - if (when) they die, I pick a new race and class for the next game. I've also been drawing my Level 30 adventurers - all three of them.

(Obviously, as the player character is just an @ symbol, some interpretation is required...)

Kaitlyn VII - Hobbit Blackguard



Sent in before I made my rule, there were at least 25 Kaitlyns in total, but the seventh got the furthest. As a Blackguard she had access to necromancy, but her weapons of choice were her collection of magic wands, and Dagmor, sword of Beren. She also wore a Helm of Seeing, which obviously must have glasses attached.

Kaitlyn VII made it down to level 35 of the dungeon before walking into a room full of Inertia Hounds. These nasty beggars breath Inertia, which slowed her down to a crawl and meant they could bite her to death before she could take two turns. I have been mortally afraid of the blighters ever since.

(The next-best Kaitlyn was the last - Kaitlyn XXV, a Hobbit Necromancer who shot everything with dark magic and made it down to level 27. Then she wound up low on health with no potions, and got pecked to death by an angry bird. She doesn't get art, it's too embarassing.)

Cheri III - Dwarf Warrior



The reason I started the drawings - the image of a dwarf marching around with Anduril over her shoulder was just too funny. ^_^ Cheri III managed to make it all the way to Level 31, only to get trapped in a corridor full of hydrae. As a Warrior, she had no spells to play with, so her options were fight, run, or die. She went for the third one, by way of the first.

She did steal Wormtongue's boots first, though - and, when she ran into Grima himself, she killed him and discovered he'd nicked Anduril somewhere along the way.

Waterlily I - Half-Orc Paladin



Waterlily doesn't talk about her dad. Nor does she respond to allegations that she became a paladin and set off on a quest to kill Morgoth to try and redeem her lineage. Given that she's fully tricked out with artefact-level gear, including the hammer of a god, an impenetrable shield, and tough iron armour, nobody questions her right to call herself an Avenger. (Sorry, not sorry.)

She did a really good job, reaching level 56 of the dungeon on her very first run. As a Paladin, she had access to some Holy spells; whenever she went into battle she started by invoking blessings of strength, accuracy, and protection on herself. She hammered her way through the dungeon, until finally she ran into a pit full of hydrae. She drew at least a dozen of the nasty 9-headed variety away to their deaths, but the last few caught her in a room, covered her with poison and fire, and ended her lineage.

Celebestel II - High Elf Mage

My current character is on level 28 of the dungeon, so should at least crack 30. She's an incredibly fragile mage, who once lost 3/4 of her life because a demon breathed on her (she left that level pretty darn quick). She's also had rotten luck with artefacts - she's currently got Arvedui's armour, which is too heavy for her, and a cloak named Colannon which gives her speed and very little else (she needs it to make up for the armour). Oh, and the Phial of Galadriel, but everyone gets that. She does have Wormtongue's boots tucked away, but needs to wear her boots which prevent paralysis instead.

But despite that, she's still ticking! Her main attack is Magic Missile, which has the advantage of not being an element that can be resisted, but in the right circumstances she can zap Fire, Ice, Lightning, or Acid onto her opponents, or hit them with her wands of Light (for orcs and trolls) and Poison. If all that fails, she's got a pretty good bow which... I've just noticed will also prevent paralysis, so she can swap her boots at last. I think she's still stuck with the cloak, though.

No art yet; she'll get her official portrait once she dies or - hah! - actually kills Morgoth. But rest assured she won't be prodding any hydra nests any time soon.

hS
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Old 06-15-2021, 08:46 AM   #2
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Update:



Celebestel II died as my second-best character so far. She had a whole bunch of elemental spells, meaning she could burn, zap, dissolve, or freeze her enemies (along with random items on the floor) at will - but most of the time she used pure magic in combat, Magic Missile or its successor Mana Bolt.

Her Robe of Permanence was a lovely find - it protects all her stats and gives her all the basic elemental resistances. With a bit more time/luck, she could have built on that and been safe from almost anything.

... but then she pushed open a door without using Detect to check for monsters behind it, and I saw:

> You hear an eerie roar.
> You are hit by something cold!
> You die.

It was a Death Drake, but I only know that from her tombstone: I never saw it. One breath of Nether, which Celebestel had never even seen anything that resisted it, and she was down from nearly full health to a pile of bones on the floor.

Oh well! That's Angband.

Her current successor is:

Lupa I - Kobold Ranger

I'm a bit torn on how to picture Lupa: she's a kobold, which are dog-like reptilian humanoids from D&D and its associates. They're the one player race which doesn't fit all that well into Middle-earth (well, other than Half-Trolls). Should I draw her as just a small goblin? As a canine creature? As a mini dragon? Still considering.

Lupa is a Ranger, which means she gets a boost to using her bow, plus some Nature spells. She's got a decent selection of arrows in her pack, and can shoot most things dead in one hit. She also has, between spells and rods, the ability to know everything that's going on around her.

What she doesn't have is... almost everything else. She's on Level 20 of the dungeon and hasn't seen a single artefact. She doesn't have electricity resistance (though she is innately resistant to poison). She can't see invisible monsters. She has no resistance to fear, blindness, confusion... she's only found a single item which prevents paralysis! She's only met 9 unique monsters, and none of them are anything to write home about. (She has continued my trend of killing Wormtongue, though - he went down in 3 arrows.)

Right now she's at a level where she keeps running into ghosts, and can only fight back by using a potion or staff to see them. If she doesn't pick up some decent equipment soon, I don't think she'll make it down to level 30...

hS
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Old 06-19-2021, 03:15 PM   #3
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To my (unreasonable?) surprise, Lupa the Kobold Ranger has just stepped down onto level 35 and is not dead. She's scraped together some decent equipment, including a very nice Longbow of Power which lets her shoot most stuff.

Her favourite trick, however, is her daggers. Most games I've run into the Fire and Ice artefact daggers, Narthanc and Nimthanc; this time I've discovered the Lightning version as well, Dethanc. It turns out they can be thrown at monsters, doing much more damage than just wielding one, and can then be collected for later use. As artefacts, they can't be destroyed by things like acid breath passing over them, or by breaking when thrown (unlike arrows, which break all the time).

So the really big, scary, or annoying monsters get a dagger or three to the face. Vampires, which drain experience? Narthanc, with a Nimthanc chaser if needed. That 5-headed hydra which had me panicking last level? Weak to cold; Nimthanc brought it near to death and an arrow finished it off.

It's not how I thought a Ranger would play, but it's working very nicely so far. Lupa I is already third place in my hall of fame, and unless she gets unlucky she should keep going a while yet.

(Now watch as the vault on this level one-shots her.)

hS
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Old 06-22-2021, 01:51 AM   #4
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I've been reading about your experiences for a while, Hui, and found them very entertaining. Now I tried the game for myself, and I can see where the appeal comes from. It's like old-fashioned Diablo (the first one), except in the coat of something still a decade deeper into the past. But I like it! It's well-built. It has probably as much to do with the "real" Angband as... as many other "adaptations" of Tolkien may, but hey. It is at least not pretending.

Certainly whoever has made it must have put quite some effort into it. And I very much enjoy the "classic" RPG element with the classes, races and rolling.

My High Elven Ranger didn't get very far yet and to be honest, I am not sure that I am going to continue, but hey, never say never. It was in any case interesting to try, so thanks for bringing this to our attention.
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Old 06-22-2021, 08:30 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
I've been reading about your experiences for a while, Hui, and found them very entertaining. Now I tried the game for myself, and I can see where the appeal comes from. It's like old-fashioned Diablo (the first one), except in the coat of something still a decade deeper into the past. But I like it! It's well-built. It has probably as much to do with the "real" Angband as... as many other "adaptations" of Tolkien may, but hey. It is at least not pretending.

Certainly whoever has made it must have put quite some effort into it. And I very much enjoy the "classic" RPG element with the classes, races and rolling.

My High Elven Ranger didn't get very far yet and to be honest, I am not sure that I am going to continue, but hey, never say never. It was in any case interesting to try, so thanks for bringing this to our attention.
Yeah, it's very much a 'Tolkien + fantasy' game. A lot of the 'fantasy' is actually made up for the game (or rather for 1983's Moria, on which it was based): early-game monsters the Yeeks exist solely because it let them use the letter y. But the artefacts, and most of the unique monsters, are heavily Tolkien-y.

Even with that, it's an unholy mashup of the Ages of Middle-earth: Lupa I killed Golfimbul (who famously fought Bullroarer Took) and Mim (betrayer of Turin) one level apart, then popped back to town to take out Farmer Maggot. But there's something utterly delightful about rampaging through the dungeon dressed as a Rider of Rohan, wielding Aule's own hammer to smash Orcs to bits by the light of the Phial of Galadriel. (The title screen quotes the Second Prophecy of Mandos, so maybe we're supposed to imagine that like Turin, all these villains and monsters have come back from the dead to serve Morgoth in the Dagor Dagorath?)

One thing it does get right is that invading the base of an incarnate evil demigod would be brutally hard. Case in point:

Lupa I - Kobold Ranger - RIP



Lupa made it down to dungeon level 46, and seemed to be in good shape. She had a nice longbow, a variety of arrows (she'd just picked up some Arrows of Wounding, which sounds good), and was still throwing her trio of elemental artefact daggers at anything which needed a faceful of fire/ice/lightning. She had native speed of +3, and had learned the spell of Haste Self, which let her get up to +13. Combined with an auto-recharging rod of Slow Monster, she could at least match the speed of pretty much anything in the dungeon.

She ran into trouble clearing out a strange room filled with lava pits. She actually got through the room all right, but had to teleport a bunch of high-level monsters across the dungeon to do it. When she went to explore the rest of the level - it said there was good treasure there, and the lava vault hadn't really delivered - she avoided the Balrog of Moria, but ran into a tag-team of Harowen the Black Hand (a unique thief) and a Death Drake.

Yes, the same kind of Death Drake that killed Celebestel II out of nowhere. This time she could see it coming, so of course she made herself scarce, right?

Ummm... well, it bit her and only did 20 damage or so, out of her 350. Harowen tried to pick her pocket and teleported away, so it was only the two of them. So sure, let's try this!

> You smite the death drake.
> The death drake breathes nether.
> You die.

Death Drakes: not to be messed with. Sorry, Lupa; at least you're my second-ranking adventurer to date.

Meanwhile... listening to the tales of the fallen Lupa I is someone with a solid grudge against Morgoth, a vested interest in getting into - and out of - Angband, and no particular qualms about how to do it. She's been digging through some old books, and sure, there's pretty dire warnings attached to some of this stuff - but that just means it's effective, right? And in order to get her husband back, there is nothing, nothing she won't do.

It's time to fight fire with fire.

Morwen I - (Dun)adan Necromancer

>You case Nether Bolt.
>The pitiful-looking beggar dies.

hS
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Old 06-23-2021, 01:35 AM   #6
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I've been lurking quite a bit, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm also invested in your game and I love your drawings!

Poor Lupa!
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Old 06-23-2021, 02:12 AM   #7
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I've been lurking quite a bit, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm also invested in your game and I love your drawings!

Poor Lupa!
Thank you! I'm glad people are enjoying it. ^_^

Like most of them, Lupa pretty much brought it on herself - the Death Drake was marked in red, which meant it was further up in the dungeon than it should be. She (or I) ought to have known that it could probably do some serious damage. But we live and learn, and that will not happen again.

Morwen is down on dungeon level 7 right now, looking for the "something worthwhile" the level feeling told her about and hoping it's not just the poisoned war hammer she's already picked up. Her spellcasting is quite limited - she has Nether Bolt (her primary attack; secondary is her sling), Sense Invisible, Create Darkness, Bat Form (faster, with better senses, but weaker), and Read Minds (ie, Detect Thinking Creatures). Create Darkness is more useful than it sounds - there's nothing really weak to Dark in the game, but as a Necromancer, Morwen has the Unlight ability. Her spells have a high failure rate if she tries to cast them in the light, so she needs to darken rooms before going on the offensive.

Of course, until her night-vision improves, this does mean she can barely see her hand in front of her face. She had to retreat hastily on her first dive when she ran into a rapidly-breeding pile of worms and couldn't tell how out-of-control they were until it was too late.

She also has two slots for new spells; next time she goes up to town, she'll pick up a new spellbook and see what damage she can do.

EDIT: So it wasn't the hammer - it was a scroll of *Destruction*, dozens of levels above where it should be, which she just incautiously read and blew up most of the level. Ah well, she was done there anyway!

(Scrolls, like practically everything else, are unidentified at first. She picked it up as a "Scroll titled 'extor temo'". They're randomised every game, too, so the only way to find out what a scroll or potion does is to either read/drink it, or sell it to a shop.)

hS
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Old 06-24-2021, 07:17 PM   #8
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rapidly-breeding pile of worms
BARF

Nope, nope, nope, nope!!
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Old 06-25-2021, 03:47 AM   #9
Huinesoron
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Originally Posted by Blind Guardian View Post
BARF

Nope, nope, nope, nope!!


The great thing about Angband (from that perspective) is that even the most horrifying things... aren't. I think they were Nether Worms, which meant there were little dark grey ws everywhere, and that was it.

Lady Morwen is not having a lot of luck. Her basic equipment is too heavy for her weedy Necromancer arms, so she's at a permanent -1 to speed. She nearly got to trade out her (heavy) crossbow for a (much lighter) shortbow - but the bow turned out to be cursed, and made her hallucinate all the time. She has no decent equipment, has only picked up resistances to Electric and Cold (along with her innate Nether resist), and is having to wear a ring that grants a tiny amount of infra(red)vision in order to see anything that doesn't actually glow.

The worst part was just now. She was 15 levels deep, and knew the level had excellent treasure somewhere on it - probably an artefact of some kind. She ran into a pit of minor demons, and cut a swathe through them. Demons resist Nether Bolt, but the smaller ones she could cast the Crush spell on (kills anything with less health than 4* your level, damaging you a bit on the way), and the larger ones went down to a single crossbow bolt each. She was leaving a trail of loot behind to collect once they were all dead.

And then a nruling banished her to another level entirely, and 2/3 of her crossbow bolts - and all the lovely loot - were lost forever.

(Still, at least a different level gave her a Staff of *Destruction* to replace the scroll she read last time. That'll be useful in... about 50 levels or so.)

EDIT: Angband taketh, and Angband giveth. Down on Level 17 (after two trips to town), Morwen has procured a Cloak of Thorongil, which gives her acid protection, protection from fear (nice, but not essential), See Invisible (yay!), and Free Action (ie, no instadeath from paralysis!). Then she fought a werewolf and a zombie orc in the same room, which was great: she just repeatedly vampirised the wolf to keep her health up, and cast Tap Unlife to restore mana by draining the zombie. From that little room, she found an Ivory amulet of regeneration, and a Main Gauche (lightweight weapon, hoorah!) of Carry More Stuff - er, sorry, of Strength. That +2 Strength means she's well below her weight limit again, and back up to neutral speed. (Of course, she still can't hit for toffee, but that's okay - she only actually uses her melee weapon by accident.)

Still lacking Cold resistance (though I have a ring tucked away back in town), but other than that we're good for the next few levels.

hS
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Old 06-26-2021, 09:55 PM   #10
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I want to say too that though I'm not into games of this sort very much, I have been following along, now cheering on Morwen. You go girl, you fight those Ws and other nasties! Also, really enjoying the drawings. ^.^
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Old 06-30-2021, 02:00 AM   #11
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Morwen isn't dead yet! She's down around level 28 (and is L28 herself), and has just run into Ibun, son of Mim. She probably won't be fighting him.

As a Necromancer, she's actually a bit of a slog to play. I think it's because there's no rhythm to get into. Waterlily, Cheri, and Kaitlyn just stabbed everything; Lupa chose between shooting or throwing daggers; Celebestel picked an element to fire off. But Morwen has to go through a whole process:
  • Is it small? Plink it away with Nether Bolt (unless it resists).
  • Undead? Tap Unlife until it's drained.
  • Single big monster? Disenchant to weaken it.
  • Multiple big monsters? Break out Dispel Life or Dark Spear.
  • Living monster that doesn't bite too hard? Vampiric Strike and take its health for your own.
  • Pack of weak monsters? Crush them out of existence.

Crush is actually her favourite spell. I imagine it as like a Force Choke; what it does is straight-up kills anything she can see with less health than 4x Morwen's level. So basically, anything with less than 100 HP just dies, at a tiny mana cost and a bit of health from Morwen.

It makes her the first character who has no fear of hounds or vortices. Both of those shoot elemental effects that can really hurt - but both of them always have less than 100 health. One cast of Crush kills an entire pack of hounds, just like that. It's also good against most varieties of orc. And it's a nice finisher against larger monsters - chip away at them with Disenchant, and then Crush to take them out.

(Eventually that process will be Dispel Life > Crush, but right now Dispel Life uses nearly half of her mana, so it's not viable. Dark Spear is cheaper, but has a 50% failure rate.)

hS
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Old 07-05-2021, 04:24 AM   #12
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Morwen I - (Dun)Adan Necromancer - RIP



I had really high hopes for Morwen. :-/ She'd just found her first dungeon spellbook, gaining access to a high-damage spell, plus a mass Teleport Other. In another two levels she would have gotten Grond's Blow, which straight-up destroys everything for 15 spaces around her - the ultimate emergency escape spell. She had almost a full set of resistances - everything except Sound, Chaos (I've never even seen Chaos), and Disenchantment. She was immune to blindness, and even had all her stats sustained against anything that might leech them away!

Her final act began when she killed a Vampire Lord, whittling it away with Disenchant. Just down the corridor was a room that looked like a checkerboard, out of which a couple of Snagas wandered. Hey, she thought, this could be fun.

A few spaces in, with sight-lines disrupted by the checkerboard, she found the room also contained Impact Hounds. She killed off a few, but they were taking too long, and there's no resisting Force. So she retreated.

When she reached the door, she found it wasn't just hounds in there: Ariel, Queen of Air (a lightning-shooting unique elemental) showed up out of nowhere. She's fast and powerful, and Morwen had to Phase Door away.

She wound up in a room with several sleeping dragons. She needed some recovery time, so she snuck past them to the far end of the room - and then the Impact Hounds found her again. Phase Door!

... it should have been Teleport, flinging her clear across the level. But something along the way had burned up her staff of Teleport, and so she could only jump short distances.

Now she was down past the checkerboard, right next to Uldor the Accursed. She was able to sneak past him - feeling Ariel breathing down her neck - but found a couple of big scary dragons. This is where she SHOULD have fired off that mass teleport spell - but no, instead she tried to sneak past the dragons by using her digging ring to create a tiny passage.

It actually worked - but just past the dragons was a Gravity Hound. They breathe Gravity (ob...viously?), which slows you into the ground and throws you into the wall - even worse than the Inertia Hounds that killed Kaitlyn back in the day. Run! To the north!

... yeah, north was a room full of Gravity Hounds. She got batted about by their breath, and somehow wound up in a tiny empty room with a closed door. Heal! HEAL!

... she got one healing potion down before the door opened. A Shambling Mound - basically an ambulatory compost heap - took one look at her and screamed for help. Everything outside sped up. Morwen was at -7 from the Hounds.

> You hear a heavy roar.
> You are hit by something strange!
> You die.

Thus fell Morwen on dungeon level 41, only one level deeper than my other pure caster character Celebestel. Whether this was a better or worse death than hers is left as an exercise to the reader.

~

Okay, so next I was going to do a Half-Troll Druid, because the idea of this great lumbering beast wearing a dainty crown of flowers amused me. But then I remembered that "half-troll" isn't just a generic fantasy term - it's canonical Gondorian racism:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RotK: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
He now was destroyed; but Gothmog the lieutenant of Morgul had flung them into the fray; Easterlings with axes, and Variags of Khand. Southrons in scarlet, and out of Far Harad black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues. Some now hastened up behind the Rohirrim, others held westward to hold off the forces of Gondor and prevent their joining with Rohan.
So she's a black woman with enhanced strength and durability, and animal-themed powers? I mean, there's only one possibility here.

Shuri - Half-Troll Druid

Wakanda forever!

(This isn't a great race/class combo: a lot of the pluses and minuses cancel out. Her main defining trait is that she's at a whopping -6 to her Dexterity, so she won't be shooting... anything... ever. She should be able to handle herself in melee, though.)

hS
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Old 07-06-2021, 09:41 AM   #13
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Shuri II - Half-Troll Druid

Well, Shuri I died on level 1 when she tried to stab a small kobold and then realised it was a normal kobold... But Shuri II is doing okay.

She's down on level 16, and has learnt both of her town spellbooks. They're a bit of a mixed bag: she's got a few damage spells, but mostly relies on hittin' stuff. And after two pure casters and a ranger, it feels weird to be happy in melee range again!

Her equipment is sorely lacking: her only basic resistance is fire, and the only artefact she's found is the Phial of Galadriel. What she does have is a Ring of Teleportation, which gives +2 speed but randomly teleports you... unless, like Shuri, you happen to be wearing shoes with a no-teleport curse on them. So it's just +2 speed and occasional messages about how teleporation is forbidden.

I don't expect to see any new spells above dungeon level 30, so it'll be all about better armour, better weapons, and raising her stats. Then, when the more exciting Druid spells come online, the dungeon had better watch out... >

hS
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Old 07-08-2021, 01:58 AM   #14
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Shuri II - Half-Troll Druid

Shuri's been taking things fairly gently: she's down on DL 22 so far, nowhere near the L30 cutoff. But her 'better armour, better weapons' plan is paying off:
  • She found - but is no longer using - Glamdring, an excellent flaming sword. The reason she's dropped it is that she now has two spears: Aiglos, the frozen spear of Gil-Galad, and the (nameless) Spear of Orome. They each give her different boosts, so she's switching between them at need. (Standard is Orome, because it has +4 Speed on it!)
  • She also paid quite a bit of money for a Longbow of Lothlorien. Not because she intends to shoot anything (pfffft), but because it has bonus powers: +dexterity, and protection from fear and paralysis. For an otherwise useless slot, that's brilliant.
  • She has finally pulled together the basic resistances + poison. The five are spread across four different items, but hopefully eventually she'll be able to combine some.
  • She also has a very nice Dwarven plate armour boosting her strength and constitution. It's heavy enough that it reduces her mana slightly, but... eh.
  • And she has the Metal Cap of Thengel, which is perfect: she gets +3 Wisdom (her spellcasting stat), and protection from confusion (which is a rare protection for a very common problem).

Things aren't perfect. She just had a long, long battle with a huorn, because she had no effective way of killing it and no way to send it away. But she won eventually, and has taken out her share of Unique monsters (18 so far! Wormtongue is dead.) She's very much a punching character who casts spells when she needs to attack at range.

One thing I sadly have no use for is her Fox Form. I think it has boosted stealth? But it can't carry as much, so she slows down if she shifts - and a slow, fragile creature isn't much good.

hS
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Old 07-12-2021, 08:57 AM   #15
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Shuri II - Half-Troll Druid

Still not dead, but not doing great. Shuri has tried three times to explore DL40, and on each attempt has been stymied by horrible monsters. Her worst moments so far have been a pack of Gravity Hounds which threw her around the room and brought her down to 2 health (out of 350!), and a Master Mystic who summoned Manwe-knows-what and knocked her down to 20 before she could teleport away.

She has some nice equipment - she's found a reusable Rod of Speed, which combined with her equiment means she can be at +17 speed whenever she wants, on top of her spell to Slow a monster - but is lacking two crucial things:

- Teleport Other. She desperately needs a way to send big scary monsters away. Most of her 'flee the level' moments have been because something decided it was going to summon more monsters, and just overwhelmed her. A wand of Teleport Other would make DL40 a breeze.

- Her dungeon spellbooks. Where are they?! She has space for 6 more spells, but no books to learn them from. I'm really feeling the lack.

She's back in town at the moment, buying some more healing potions - she goes through those things like crazy - and after that is going to try running DL38 and 39 a few times in the hopes of getting some good equipment before facing 40 again.

She did kill a huorn just now, though. That was satisfying.

hS
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Old 07-14-2021, 04:26 AM   #16
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Shuri II - Half-Troll Druid

Still still not dead, and what a difference a day (or two) makes! Yesterday Shuri fought and killed Mim (Betrayer Of Turin), and he dropped one of her dungeon spellbooks. "Goodness," she thought, "that was lucky!"

Well, it was - as was stumbling across both of the other two in the following 24 hours.

So Shuri is now thoroughly equipped with spells. Her absolute best two are Haste Self, which fully replaces her rod and potions of sleep, and Become Pukel-man, which transforms her into a living statue.

Her Pukel-form is insane. It loses 5 speed (but she's currently at +9 from her equipment, or +19 if Hasted by her new spell), isn't stealthy (but who needs stealth?), and as a transformation can't use any items (but transforming back is instantaneous, so she can always transform-teleport if she's in danger). In exchange, she gets:

+4 Strength, +4 Constitution, +20 to her saving throw (taking it to 85%), +20 to Armour, +0.7 blows/turn, protection from stunning, resistance to Shards, immunity to poison, Damage Reduction, and something which reduces her chance of having her experience points leeched away to nil, without actually being Hold Life itself.

This is incredible. She punched Tom and Bill the Stone-Trolls to death without taking any damage. She smashed her way through a massive pit of Wights, each of which tried (and failed) to steal her XP. She cracked open a vault and just beat up everything inside it. She beat up Lorgan the Easterling - who had twice forced her to flee a level - and then punched all the monsters he summoned to death as well.

On top of that, she's very nearly got full resistance coverage from her equipment. She's never seen Dark or Sound resistance, and has had to give up her amulet with Disenchantment resist to get Nexus resist back, but other than that she has a full set. Her only major hole is protection from blindness, and I guess Hold Life if she's not being a punching statue at the moment.

She's currently on DL 41, with a character level of 34. When she hits CL 35, she'll pick up three new spells: Eagle's Flight (become a Great Eagle; I'm assuming this at least grants massive speed boosts), Revitalise (restores all stats and XP to max, AKA "who needs Hold Life anyway?"), and Rift (shoots a beam of gravity that has a chance of teleporting the monsters it hits away, aka "stupid Night Mare, get out of my way").

... oh, and she bought a wand of Teleport Other from the shop, but with her Pukel form she hasn't had to use it yet!

hS
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Old 07-20-2021, 08:48 AM   #17
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Shuri II - Half-Troll Druid - RIP



This was a foolish death. I was fighting a Maia of Mandos in Pukel-form, and just held down the forward button and punched it. I wasn't aware that Maiar could shapeshift, and had about a second and a half to process that a) the Maia was now a Time Vortex, b) they can breathe Time not just to reduce your XP and stats, but to do serious damage, and c) Shuri II was in serious danger of

> You thump the time vortex.
> You strike the time vortex.
> The time vortex breathes time.
> You die.

It's always the breath weapons that get me. Hounds, Hydra, Drakes, and now Vortices. None of my high-level characters have just been stabbed to death.

Shuri slides neatly into... third? Third place on my chart, dying on DL 44: two levels above Lupa, and miles above Waterlily. Despite that, I think she might actually be my favourite so far: the Druid gets Haste, Slow, and a weak Teleport Other spell, plus the all-encompassing Pukel-Form. With the truly ridiculous speed bonuses she'd pulled in (she was natively at +9, which could have been +12 if I'd kept my old armour instead of swapping this one in for the resistances, and then she could cast Haste for another +10), she was well set to stomp her way down into the second half of the dungeon.

I'm probably taking a break from Angband for a while now - the constant deaths do take a toll - but for the future, remaining races are:

- Human (my first character, Haleth, was human, but no version hit DL30).
- Half-elf (human optimised for shooting)
- Elf (the quintessential Ranger)
- Gnome (innate device user who can't be paralysed; shares Elf stat bonuses, so plausibly a Noldo)

Classes yet to be played are:

- Priest (the magic half of Waterlily; gets bonuses from Blessed weapons, which show up a fair bit; the Spear of Orome is one, actually)
- Rogue (casts some Mage spells and knows Pickpocketing, which... steals... stuff? I don't know, but it sounds like it would go well with high Stealth, perhaps by way of the Bat or Fox forms)

No idea where I'm likely to go with that!

hS
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Old 10-14-2021, 09:10 AM   #18
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And we're back!

Looking at my last post, and having just (2 months ago, that is) played a casting class in the Druid, I decided I'd leave the Priest for now and go with a Rogue. I didn't want to use a baseline Human, which left me with Elf, Budget Elf, or Elf With Extras. I decided to take the extras, and so we are now a Gnomish Rogue.

Officially, the Gnome is about 3 feet tall, but in Tolkienverse that's silly: "Gnome" is just an old term for the Noldor. My first thought for a Noldorin lady who was willing to play a bit fast and loose with the rules was of course Aredhel, and we were very nearly her... but then I remembered her Aunt, one of the few Noldorin adult women known to have joined the Exile. Sure, all we know about her is her names and that she hung out with Fingolfin, but that means we don't know she didn't become a reckless thief and launch a quixotic solo assault on Angband. She might've. You can't prove otherwise.

I decided that calling her Lalwen was a bit grim, given the other holder of that name, so now we are...

rim I



Well that went well. -_-

rim I was knocked from full health to dead in one turn by a pack of monsters she'd unleashed from a trapped chest; shades of Pandora there! Gorlim got the final blow, but I know she also got hit with acid and a bunch of other stuff; they were actually out of sight at the time, so I can't confirm exactly what got her.

The reason she went down so fast was because she'd earlier tried to take on a unique Easterling named Lokkar or something who summoned a whole bunch of stuff, some of which drained her stats pretty much to bedrock. She had basically no staying power, and Gorlim's mob took advantage of it.

Now, technically, rim I should get a portrait - both her character and dungeon level are past 30. But after seven runs, I feel like the early dungeon is a bit easier now, so I'm increasing the requirements: for a character to get a portrait (and her name/class retired), she needs to either reach DL 40 (2000'), or CL 35 - or both. The only ones so far who didn't get at least that far are the earliest pair, Kaitlyn and Cheri, so after the Rogue and Priest we'll be revisiting the Blackguard and Warrior.

For now, though...

rim II

Let's see how this goes.

rim is a fun character to play. Once she gets everything online, she has fantastic stealth (rim I's ranged between Superb and Heroic), and a 100% chance to disarm any trap she can see. As a Gnome, she also automatically identifies wands and staffs, which saves a lot of mucking about.

As an Elf spinoff, she's got the Dexterity of a Ranger - rim I got half her kills with a slingshot she picked up around level 5. Her starting spellbook gives her Phase Door and a collection of mapping spells, including the amazing Detect Objects which maps and identifies every bit of treasure nearby. A dungeon level becomes a matter of spotting the cool stuff and making a beeline for it. Her dungeon spellbook gives her Teleport Self and Teleport Other, as well as a spell to let her automatically teleport after using Pickpocket.

Pickpocket lets her steal a monster's drop without bothering to kill it. What this means is that if a monster is asleep, stealthy rim can stroll up to it, rifle its pockets, and stroll or teleport away without it ever waking up. I didn't make much use of this, but once rim II makes it to the point where she has all her spells and just needs better equipment, I think I just might.

... but all that's for the future. Right now she's at level 5, 100 feet underground (DL 2), and every Soldier leaves her nearly dead. Let's see how this goes...

hS
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Old 10-16-2021, 03:41 PM   #19
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rim II

... is doing okay. She hasn't had the fantastic run of artefacts her predecessor did: she's CL 18 on DL 15 with only the unique ice dagger to her name, when at this point rim I was already almost fully dressed in named items. But she's fine.

Her funniest moment so far was when I couldn't kill Wormtongue. Instead, she used a staff of Sleep on him and picked his pocket - pulled some gold, a shield, and a Robe of Resistance. Then she retreated back to town and put the robe on.

When she next entered the dungeon, Grima was right by her entry point. He was clearly waiting for her; and the obvious reason is that last time they fought, he fell asleep, and when he woke up his clothes were gone...

Anyway, he's dead now and she's still wearing his robe.

hS
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Old 10-19-2021, 09:53 AM   #20
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rim II

We've reached DL 35 - one level above where rim I had her fatal encounter with Gorlim - and the two characters are very different. rim I had four or five artefacts; rim II has only one, a Trident of Wrath she picked up on Level 20. It can do up to 530 damage per turn in the right circumstances, so it's entirely worth keeping around.

The rest of her kit is ordinary items with lots of boosts. She has a Jewel Encrusted Crown of Might which increases her strength, dexterity, and constitution; an Amulet of the Magi that does the same for her intelligence and searching while also protecting her from blindness and letting her see invisible things, a beautiful pair of leather boots which grant +6 speed(!)... she's doing okay. She has all the basic resistances, plus light and dark, shards and disenchantment; and her stealth is Heroic.

The two big things she lacks are: resistance to poison, at a point where she's starting to hit high-level hydras and the like; and a decent light source. She's stuck using a basic 2-light-radius lantern - not even a Lantern of Brightness! All those times I've complained that my only artefact is the Phial of Galadriel have come back to bite me...

She's also killed 37 unique enemies; in fact, Lorgan and Gorlim (the killers of rim I) are pretty much the lowest-level uniques still alive. She's getting towards the ones I've only seen a couple of times, including some I don't think I've ever killed.

... oh, and she's picked up the three elemental daggers, which she carries around in case I feel like throwing them at things in memory of Lupa's party trick. ^_^

hS
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Old 10-20-2021, 02:13 AM   #21
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rim II

What did I say I wanted? Poison resistance and a good light source? Well, on DL 38, rim avenged her predecessor by killing Lorgan, Chief of the Easterlings, and he dropped... the Phial of Galadriel! So now she can see more than two feet in front of her face.

Then she returned to town, and for a measely 4500 gold she bought a Ring of Resist Poison! It's meant taking off my Ring of the Mouse (increased stealth but slightly reduced attack; I've had this one since around level 5), but I have enough stealth from other sources to still be Superb.

Even more exciting, on DL 39 I found a Ring of Speed just lying on the floor. A ring of +8 Speed. With her fancy boots, rim is now +14 speed natively, which works out as her getting 2.4 moves for a normal-speed opponent's one.

And she needs it. She's just entered DL 40, and there is a massive difficulty bump around here. Case in point:



M is hydra; J is snake; n is naga. That's a pit absolutely stuffed with hydrae, including a bunch of 6-headed ones.

I actually think 6-headed hydrae are the biggest difficulty bump in the game. 2-4 headed ones breathe fire, which you can laugh off. 5-headed will poison you.

6-headed hydrae will breathe poison at you, and if you don't resist it, will knock 200 health off you just like that. Face two of them? You're dead. Don't heal or run fast enough from one? You're dead.

This pit was on DL 36, and rim hit the Teleport Self button as soon as she saw it, because nope. Four levels further down, 6-headed hydrae are becoming regular features. She's killed two so far, and been terrified the entire time.

Worse, my old enemies Inertia and Gravity Hounds are showing up. Inertia Hound breath slows you down (though that still leaves rim at +4); Gravity Hound breath throws you across the level into a wall. Getting caught in a room with either is a recipe for disaster.

But that's okay. She's got her Reveal Monsters spell, so she just has to keep an eye on what's happening and always be ready to jump out if it gets nasty. She'd better, because she's reached Level 40, so this is her last chance before she gets replaced with a new character.

hS

PS: Still no artefacts, other than the Phial and Trident. Which isn't to say I haven't found any... they just haven't been as good as what I already had. Like the Iron Helm of Gorlim, which showed up in a vault on DL 33: it gives -3 Intelligence and Wisdom, -5 Searching, and aggravates all monsters around you. Umm... pass, thanks. ^_^ (It also gives protection from fear and paralysis, and See Invisible, so a big burly warrior might want it. rim definitely doesn't.)
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Old 10-21-2021, 06:16 AM   #22
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Narya

rim II

rim I is avenged! After finding Gorlim's terrible hat yesterday, I cornered the man himself on DL 45 and stabbed him to death with my trident. From his hand fell the Ring of Barahir, which I think is the first artefact Ring I've found. It offers +1 to all my stats as well as resistance to poison (and Dark), so it's a perfect replacement for my Resist Poison ring.

rim is finally decked out in decent artefacts: as well as her trident and Phial, she has a Short Bow of Amras, Chain Mail of Caspanion (no, I don't know either), and helm Holhenneth. She could still do with a decent artefact cloak (I've found Thorongil's, but it isn't great) and a good necklace, but otherwise we're good.

I'm about to make my third attempt to get through DL 46. Last time, I ran into a pit of Dracolisks, of which I've killed one, ever; then teleported away into a large room filled with gravity hounds and Kavlax the Many-Headed. That led to me being slowed and heavily stunned; I had to chug healing potions until my remaining speed gave me time to try a teleport spell (at 30% failure rate) and still have time to recover if it didn't work.

The uniques are getting nasty. Kavlax breathes nexus and sound, neither of which I currently resist, chopping off half my health with each breath. I also ran into the Phoenix, which breathes plasma for the same damage. In contrast, Ar-Pharazon (theoretically higher-level than either of them) was a pushover: I just slowed him, hasted rim, and stabbed him until he died.

Current wishlist: I want more resistances. Having nexus back would be nice (it was on an old armour), and I know I'm going to hit Death Drakes soon who will try to kill me with Nether. I'd also like protection from stunning: I have protection from Confusion on my armour and helmet, but stunning would mean I can always teleport out rather than risking the spell failing. (The other protections are blindness - covered for ages - and fear, which... eh, it just means I can't kill stuff, I can still get away.) Also, I'd love Hold Life, so vampires don't keep draining my XP!

(Two things I no longer need are Feather Falling and Trap Immunity. rim can see and disarm all traps with 100% success - who needs a special trait to keep from falling down pits?)

Right, off to brave Level 46 again and see if I can get down further.

hS

EDIT: Kavlax and the Phoenix both showed up on DL 46, and I was able to isolate and kill them both. Picked up a very nice Staff of Speed along the way; until my recharging spell fails and blows it up, I can run at +27 speed whenever I need to.

... then I ran into a Nexus vortex (while fighting a Feanorian raider). Its first breath took me 3/4 of the way to dead; its second teleported me back up to DL 45. XD Time for a fourth attempt...! ~hS
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Old 10-24-2021, 08:16 AM   #23
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rim II

... is currently on DL 61, five levels below Waterlily's previous best. She's also CL 42, which is the highest I've ever had - and on DL 60 she picked up a self-recharging Rod of Restoration, which will allow her to magic back all her lost XP every 2500 steps.

I have killed things I never knew existed. Multi-hued hounds were a nasty shock, and I have a horrible feeling I'm going to meet a Time Dragon one of these days, but I have slain Shelob, and Smaug and Scatha, and Fundin Bluecloak the Dwarf priest. There are only five Uniques I know of that I haven't killed: Ariel the Queen of Air (an elemental), Harowen the Black Hand (stupidly fast thief), Gilim the Giant of Eruman (not seen this run), Saruman of Many Colours, and Osse Herald of Ulmo (not seen this run). Saruman is actually right here on DL 61, so it may be his time...

My traits haven't changed overmuch. rim now has protection from Fear and Nexus, and has picked up Regeneration (faster healing). She's also maxed out her innate stats (except Wisdom, which she doesn't use), and has actually hit the cap for her Strength. This is handy, because it means I can stop worrying about looking for Strength on equipment. But no Nether resist, no Hold Life, and no Sustain any of her stats.

She's been cautious. Big scary things usually get Teleport Other'd. This emphatically includes Death Drakes - the critters which killed both Celebestel and Lupa - which I've discovered can walk through walls and are functionally invisible (they create a moving spot of darkness around themselves, so unless they're right up close I just can't see them). She's got enough life that she should be able to take a hit from one - one hit - but I'm not keen on testing that.

She's also got a second Ring of +8 Speed tucked away, so if I find some useful boots, I can swap that out for the Ring of Barahir now that my stats are pretty high.

Oh, and she found the Nauglamir! That's where the Regeneration and Fear protection come from, along with some stat boosts. So she's now carting around an actual Silmaril for its +1 Light radius. ^_^

Anyway, off to kill and/or flee from Saruman.

hS
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Old 11-18-2021, 10:33 AM   #24
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rim II

... is dead.

No picture, because I've managed to lose the sketchbook I draw them in, but am not willing to admit defeat on finding it again.

rim did an amazing job. She made it all the way to 3300' - Dungeon Level 66, a full 10 levels further than my previous best, Waterlily! She killed Smaug, Saruman, Scatha, the Balrog of Moria, and even Shelob herself (oh, and don't forget Tevildo, Prince of Cats!). She made Character Level 44, three more than Waterlily, and would have been higher had it not taken so long to find a source of Hold Life.

Her final equipment included the Nauglamir, Osse's Trident of Wrath (all the way from Level 20), the Ring of Barahir, a Ring of +9 Speed, mail made from the scales of a Balance Drake (resistance to weird things like Chaos and Disenchantment), the Shield of Elros, and the Short Bow of Amras. She carried as many staves of speed as she could get her hands on, and her spells let her recharge them as often as they ran out. She got five blows of her trident every turn, could spot and disarm every trap without fail, and all she was really looking for was resistance to Nether and some better stat-sustain options.

... and then she saw the Mouth of Sauron. And she decided she could take him. And they were both down to about half health, and she thought it was going well.

Aaaaand then he "invoked a storm of raw magic", which I believe is the next stage of Celebestel's Mana Bolt from back in the day. Nothing, including the player, resists pure Magic damage, and so all her clever resistances were good for nothing. She had over 300 health remaining, but:

> The Mouth of Sauron invokes a storm of raw magic.
> The Wand of Dragon's Frost is destroyed!
> The Scroll of Enchant Armour is destroyed!
> The Pike is destroyed!
> The Gelatinous Mushroom is destroyed!
> The Seeker Arrow of Slay Evil is destroyed!
> You die.

RIP rim II. You were awesome.

---

Next up will be a Priest, and since we've just played an Elf With Extras (Gnome), I think I have to go for a Budget Elf next. So we will be a half-elven priest(ess). I think that probably makes us Elwing.

hS
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