DROD: Slayers

drod-slayersJourney to Rooted Hold introduced a recurring antagonist: the Slayer. Slayers are kind of like the Terminator: perfect killers, relentless and unstoppable, something to be escaped from rather than defeated, at least until a climactic confrontation with a lot of pyrotechnics. They’re created to deal with nosy delvers like Beethro who threaten the security of the Empire. One starts pursuing him early in the game, and keeps on appearing every so often right up to the end.

The key thing about the Slayers is that they’re always armed with a vicious hook that has the same reach as Beethro’s Really Big Sword, and they always points it towards Beethro. This means it’s absolutely impossible to kill them directly.

Now, The City Beneath has Slayers. They’re even important to the overall plot. But this time around, they’re not so hard to kill. The game’s excuse for this is that the ones attacking you now aren’t full Slayers yet, but Slayer trainees. Their hope is that if they kill you they’ll be allowed to fill the vacancy left by the death of the Slayer from Journey to Rooted Hold.

The interesting thing is that the trainees don’t seem to be governed by a different algorithm than the full Slayers. The only reason they’re easier to kill is that they show up in rooms where the terrain is against them. The most extreme example appears in a room containing lots of hot tiles. Hot tiles are new in TCB. Anything (be it monster or Beethro) that stays on a hot tile for more than a turn burns up. Hot tiles are an especially stupid place for Slayers to be, because they’re always pausing in their pursuit to reorient their hook or send a wisp to find a path to Beethro. (These pauses are the basic weakness that allowed Beethro to repeatedly escape from the Slayer in JtRH.)

Eventually, Beethro has to apply for a job in order to be allowed deeper into the city. He applies for the job of Slayer, because he knows there’s a vacancy, and because it’s really the only thing he’s qualified for. To get the job, he has to defeat five other Slayer candidates at once. This is one of those staggering moments — five at once! We spent an entire game fighting one. But it turns out that five Slayers aren’t that much harder to defeat than one, owing to the fact that they all act pretty much the same. If they were smart enough to coordinate their attacks, they would be formidable, but they don’t. Herding them all to the same place at once is a little tricky, but really just requires persistence, not cleverness.

Not long after this, Beethro has to kill 255 Slayers at once. Not quite through the same means, though.

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