Friday, January 11, 2013

My Adventure as a Spriggan Wizard

My personal favorite roguelike is Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup (DCSS). Someone who has played a number of roguelikes will probably notice a few things in @Star Wars that were obviously inspired by DCSS (and a couple of other roguelikes - namely Sil). I've been playing DCSS for a month or two longer than I've been working on @Star Wars (which will have been in development for 2 years in March) and I've never won (or even acquired a rune). Below is my best run yet.

I have done a couple of attempts as a Spriggan Wizard in the past. I enjoy their starting kit, which includes decent mobility and an irresistible source of damage. Some will argue against the Wizard background as it doesn't allow any initial specialization, but I've found that's a fairly minor disadvantage.

This was the first interesting find - a Scroll of Acquirement. They are extraordinarily rare, but finding one on the sixth floor is a decent stroke of luck indeed. It took me a while (and consulting some other players) to pick what to try and acquire. I ultimately chose armor, as it would be guaranteed to fit a Spriggan, which tend to have difficulty finding decent armor that fits them.

The scroll gave me this interesting cloak. Overall, it wasn't an amazing cloak, though it did allow me to divert some early attribute points from Strength and into Intelligence. The extra Dexterity sweetened the deal, as the vast majority of Spriggans focus on evading damage rather than soaking it, which Dexterity helps with a fair bit.

A few floors after acquiring the scroll and cloak, I stumbled upon the Book of Power. I was worshipping Vehumet, who would eventually give me the Book of Power as a gift, but would now gift me something better sooner instead. Beyond that simple benefit, the Book of Power had two great spells which became very useful in no time: Mystic Blast and Orb of Destruction. Mystic Blast is basically a more expensive version of the Wizard's starting nuke, Magic Dart, but it comes with an area-of-effect and hits substantially harder. Orb of Destruction was a spell I rarely utilized, but when I did, it annihilated my target with ease.

The Lair of Beasts is the first "branch" of the dungeon that most players choose to clear first. It tends to be easier and more predictable than the dungeon floors beyond it. Oddly enough, the entrance to the Lair for this character didn't show up until the eleventh floor, which is quite late. In the picture, I've spotted an Oklob Plant in the far left corner of my screen. These plants are really, really nasty - especially to a low level character such as myself. They can spit acid, dealing immense damage to not only you but your equipment as well. The good news? Apparently the other vegetation surrounding the entrance to the Lair (the golden staircase) blocks the Oklob Plant's line of sight and I was able to safely descend into the Lair.

The actual Lair itself was quite easy to clear - so much so that, throughout its eight floors, I never thought to take a screenshot. My speed and damage output were so high relative to the enemy's that I blazed through the Lair, set up my stash on the second floor of it, and moved on to the Orcish Mines. I manged to clear the first three floors of the Mines by utilizing a bit of "stair dancing", Haste, and just general caution. The fourth and final floor, however, invited a bit of a scare...

That is Fannar - one of the dozens of uniques that can be encountered throughout DCSS. Fannar is basically an Ice Elementalist and has earned respect throughout much of the community because he can show up before most players have acquired substantial Cold Resistance. Once I took a moment and recollected myself, I remembered that I actually had three sources of cold resistance and a very powerful Fireball!

Fannar dropped a Robe of Cold Resistance - (un)fortunately I already had one. After that small scare with Fannar, I proceeded to clear out the rest of the Orcish Mines with no issues whatsoever. The logical thing to do now is to push further into the dungeon proper, which is exactly what I did. I actually managed to make it all the way to dungeon floor nineteen (a first for me) before anything interesting occurred: a shaft in the ground sent me tumbling down to the twenty-third floor!

The floor in general was not too much of a challenge, except for two things: there was a Lich guarding an impressive hoard of treasure and I had no access to my personal stash until I could return to the nineteenth floor. This was my first time ever seeing a Lich, though I had heard plenty about them. They have a terrifying number of hard hitting nukes and can summon a horde of undead to distract and kill you. Still, I was determined to get the treasures he was guarding dearly. I buffed up with several potions and a few of my own spells and entered his domain. It was a fairly straightforward battle until we both decided to summon an Orb of Destruction. Apparently when two Orbs collide like that, both casters end up taking immense damage. I lived, barely, and finished off the Lich!

I explored the twenty-second, twenty-first, and twentieth floors (in that order) and found my way back to the nineteenth floor and my stash. Those floors were fairly simple for a decked out Wizard like myself. Indeed, I could practically taste victory - I had all of the essential buffs castable, I had three very strong and reliable nukes at my disposal, and I had a ginormous stash. And then comes floor twenty-four...

The twenty-fourth floor featured a design I had never seen before. In the center there was a winding portal-like structure that wound into a center literally filled with bad guys eager to slay me. I buffed myself up and managed to kill several of them. I ran away to regain my mana a few times. Unfortunately, the second or third I was on my way back to the center after resting, I forgot to buff myself up beforehand. Two bolts to the head later and a bad decision (using the wand of invisibility was not wise) later and I was guts on the ground.

Still, this run was by far the most fun I have ever had in DCSS and, despite the unfortunate loss chronicled here, I am more eager than ever to play more and try to win (or at least get a rune!).

For those of you with a little bit of Stone Soup knowledge, here's the morgue file.

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