JtRH: Enter the Tar

JtRH Level 10 brings back the Living Tar, DROD‘s equivalent of slimes and oozes. Although not a new element in DROD, it was absent from JtRH until this point, and Beethro greets its reemergence with an “Oh no”. As well he should: it’s worse this time. One of the hard but useful lessons of the first game was that, although it’s often a good idea to clean up tar deposits completely (especially in the presence of a Tar Mother, which makes them grow and spread), it usually isn’t strictly necessary for the completion of a room, and in some rooms it’s actually impossible. Tar can spawn monsters — any tar that’s reduced to a width of 1 tile breaks off into a Tar Baby, which is functionally equivalent to a roach — but it doesn’t count as a monster itself in its senescent state, so a room can be full of tar and still count as conquered. (This has the peculiar effect that you can clear a room of monsters, and then, before you leave, cut into some leftover tar and spawn new babies, returning the room to
its unsolved state.) But JtRH adds a new element that changes this: Tar gates. Just as green gates open when there are no monsters in the room, and red gates open when all the trap doors in the room have dropped, the black tar gates open when all the tarstuff in the room is gone. 1To be more precise, these conditions don’t necessarily open the gates, but rather, toggle them. It’s just that gates usually start off closed. It’s possible to author a tar gate that starts open and closes when you clear the tar, but I haven’t seen this done in JtRH so far. So from here on out, clean-up-all-the-tar puzzles are a possibility. And that means it’s not only going to be necessary, it’s going to be difficult.

There’s one other thing JtRH adds to tar, though: context. Back in King Dugan’s Dungeon, tar was just one of those things you find in dungeons. There was no explanation for it. In JtRH, there’s… well, call it half an explanation for it. We know from notes found around the level that the the tar is artificial, concocted by the Tar Technicians of the Rooted Empire. What we don’t know is why. Very likely there is no real reason, or at least none that anyone remembers; I’ve commented before on how the Empire as a whole is an irrational system without a guiding purpose. Some of the notes we find describe experiments the technicians are doing on the tar, and the intro text for the level mentions “the crackpot theory that tar is in fact an artificial creation of a clandestine underground society whose scientific knowledge far exceeds our own” (emphasis mine). In short, this is the place where the game starts to suggest that this fantasy world may be a little sci-fi, possibly even futuristic.

The next level undercuts this severely by mentioning items of untold destructive power, which turn out to be round black ball bombs with long sparking fuses, an antiquated technology used today only by cartoon characters.

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1. To be more precise, these conditions don’t necessarily open the gates, but rather, toggle them. It’s just that gates usually start off closed. It’s possible to author a tar gate that starts open and closes when you clear the tar, but I haven’t seen this done in JtRH so far.

1 Comment so far

  1. Mikuru on 19 Oct 2017

    Green, red, blue and black gates that start open were a new feature in TCB, so no, you won’t find any of those in JtRH.

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