Dungeons of Dredmor: First Death

Actually what I’m reporting is my second death. My first game was over quickly enough that I don’t think it counts. My second lasted long enough for me to explore the first six floors of the dungeon quite thoroughly, and start on the seventh. A modicum of care and caution is all it takes to keep a game going for hours, it turns out, because there’s no hunger factor or anything forcing you to keep moving downward faster than you’d like. (Food exists, but is pretty much optional. It just gives you a buff that temporarily increases your healing rate to one hit point per turn.) And that care really should have carried me longer than it did. My death, as is traditional in roguelikes, was a stupid one.

It started with a treasure zoo. This is a blatant nethackism: on most levels (possibly all; I didn’t really keep track), there is a room completely full of monsters, which typically come flooding out the moment you open the door, accompanied by frantic zoo music. I pretty much knew how to handle zoos by this point, of course. I was playing a melee specialist, having chosen this for its simplicity so I could get used to the basics of the game, so I didn’t have a lot of power to kill multiple monsters at once. Taking on a zoo meant fighting more monsters than I could comfortably handle, and periodically falling back to heal and recover. In extreme cases, it meant retreating all the way to the stairs to the previous level.

The problem here was that the zoo was extremely close to those stairs. I managed to retreat to it once, but the monsters mobbed around me so close that I was completely surrounded when I came back down. And that created a problem I wasn’t anticipating when I went back down. The way you go up a staircase in this game is by moving onto it. Thus, in order to go back up a staircase you just came down, you have to move off it and back on again. But if you can’t move due to all the monsters crowded around you, you can’t do that.

Now, if all that had happened was that I got surrounded and killed because stairs don’t work right, I would call it a cheap shot. But I managed to make a pretty good go of it. The monsters whittled me down to near death, but I had some emergency supplies that helped me to survive: buff potions, healing supplies, food. The food effect may not sound like much, but I’m finding that, for a heavily-armored melee fighter, this is a game of margins. Most monsters’ attacks weren’t doing me a lot of damage; I just had to make sure that I was regaining health at an overall faster rate than I was losing it. Elemental resistance also seems to be a big part of this. On most of the dungeon floors that I’ve seen, there’s a dominant elemental damage type, and donning an item that grants even one point of resistance to that type can be a big win.

Also, at one point during this fight, I gained an experience level, which heals you instantly to your new maximum health. But I couldn’t count on that happening again, and I was running out of useful potions, so I looked for other options. My best bet seemed to be that Knightly Leap skill that I mentioned in my last post. There was one spot that it looked like I could jump to, just past the mob, and from there I could possibly make a break for a side chamber that was a little farther away from the zoo, possibly far enough away that I’d stop attracting fresh monsters to replace every kill. Alternately, perhaps I could wait for the cooldown on the Leap to expire and leap back to the stairs, hopefully triggering them.

Neither of those things happened. The spot I was aiming for was not in fact one I could leap to — I think a corner of irregularly-shaped wall was keeping it out of direct line-of-sight. Discovering this on selecting the Leap action, I, like a fool, just poked around with it until I found a spot I could leap to, heedless of whether it was a spot that exposed me to more monster attacks. And that was that. I had put up a valiant fight that lasted a lot longer than I was expecting, and it’s conceivable that I could have pulled through if I hadn’t made that mistake. But that’s far from certain.

The thing is, I’m not even all that disappointed in my stupid death. You have to take this sort of thing in stride if you play roguelikes. And besides, it gives me an opportunity to try out a new character, with a different set of skills. I was thinking at first that once this game was over, one way or another, I’d take a break and play a different game for a while. But I’m honestly impatient to try out more of Dredmor possibilities.

1 Comment so far

  1. Jason Dyer on 13 Dec 2011

    And this is one of the nasty surprises I meant! I do think it is fair (otherwise there would be some balance issues with stair-sniping).

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