Discussion:
[YASD] Cthangband
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Igenlode Wordsmith
2015-08-02 09:30:40 UTC
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I always enjoyed Cthangband (the old non-skills-based version) as the most
playable of the 'wilderness'/new races variants, and the multiple dungeons
make it possible to level up characters scarily fast -- if you survive.

This was a randomly-generated character rolled up for a quick bout of
procrastination who survived rather longer than usual. I've never tried an
evil paladin before: Horrify is a useful fear spell that actually *works*,
as opposed to making your opponents attack you (causes stunning and
paralysis, so far as I could tell) and Detect Evil/Detect Undead plus a
Magic Missile analogue that is extra sensitive to evil enabled me to survive
an early out-of-depth quest for over a dozen flying skulls...

Light Hounds aren't a very nice experience when you're a vampire, and treks
through the wilderness when you can only go out during the dark (the
dangerous time) and can't actually *see* the dungeon entrances until you
more or less stumble over them make life pretty dangerous -- which is why I
was tackling one of the more difficult dungeons before the easier ones like
the Yeek Lair or the Orc Caves. But I was incredibly lucky to get the Robe
of Permanence as a quest reward early on, which enabled me to fight a lot of
stat-draining monsters that should have been well above my level.

The death was really stupid in that I was paralysed and killed very slowly
by ghouls simply through lack of Free Action after swapping out my Planar
weapon (which apparently gives FA) for the Chaotic weapon I was using
previously (which is better for a long slogging hand-to-hand fight as it
randomly gives you a regular HP boost by draining your opponents). This was
the first time in the entire game that anything had paralysed me, and I
didn't even realise that I'd reached character level 25 without any form of
FA -- ironically the Set of Gauntlets of Ghouls *don't* protect you against
ghoul attacks!

No home inventory because I hadn't yet managed to accumulate enough money to
buy a home in even the most undesirable of towns...


[Cthangband 3.1.2 Character Dump]

Name : Arielle Age 122 STR: 18
Sex : Female Height 69 INT: 13
Race : Vampire Weight 164 WIS: 17
Class : Death Knight Social Class 1 DEX: 12
Magic : Death CON: 18/47
CHR: 18/ 1

+ To Hit 5 Level 25 Max Hit Points 291
+ To Damage 17 Experience 37398 Cur Hit Points -2
+ To AC 31 Max Exp 37398 Max SP (Mana) 26
Base AC 16 Exp to Adv. 41125 Cur SP (Mana) 26
Exp Factor 235 Gold 13328

(Miscellaneous Abilities)
Fighting : Supernatural Perception : Fair Blows/Round: 1
Bows/Throw : Superb Searching : Fair Shots/Round: 1
Saving Throw: Superb Disarming : Good Wpn.dmg/Rnd: 2d6+17
Stealth : Excellent Magic Device: Superb Infra-Vision: 60 feet


(Character Background)
In life you were a Vampire Hunter, but they got you. You
have white hair, blank white eyes, and a deathly pale
complexion.



[Miscellaneous information]

Ironman Mode: OFF
Maximize Mode: OFF
Preserve Mode: ON
Autoscum: ON
Small Levels: ON
Arena Levels: ON
Long Stairs: ON
Recall Depth: Level 21 (1050')

You have defeated 2349 enemies.


[Character Equipment]

a) a Beaked Axe (Chaotic) (2d6) (+4,+3)
b) a Long Bow (x3) (+4,+4) {cursed}
c) a Marble Ring of Damage (+12)
d) a Corundum Ring of Searching (+2)
e) (nothing)
f) (nothing)
g) a Robe of Permanence [2,+9] {uncursed}
h) a Cloak [1,+1] {uncursed}
i) a Large Leather Shield [4,-2]
j) an Iron Helm of Infravision [5,+4] (+1)
k) The Set of Gauntlets of Ghouls [2,+15] (+4) {@A1}
l) a Pair of Soft Leather Boots of Stealth [2,+4] (+2 to stealth)
m) a Scroll of *Identify*
n) a Tin Wand of Wonder (17 charges)
o) a Scroll titled "prok saden" of Teleport Level
p) a Mithril Wand of Stone to Mud (6 charges)
q) a Tin Wand of Wonder (13 charges)
r) a Short Wand of Confuse Monster (5 charges)


[Character Inventory]

a) 2 Books of Death Magic [Black Prayers]
b) 2 Books of Death Magic [Black Mass]
c) a White Spotted Mushroom of Unhealth
d) 3 Brown Potions of Speed
e) 7 Ichor Potions of Cure Serious Wounds
f) a Dark Red Potion of Cure Critical Wounds
g) 4 Potions of Cure Critical Wounds {25% off}
h) 4 Scrolls titled "xuxua deryerg" of Darkness
i) 5 Scrolls titled "shu blutri sat" of Phase Door
j) 4 Scrolls of Teleportation
k) 4 Scrolls titled "ufu biecon" of Word of Recall
l) 21 Scrolls titled "taun itiv" of Identify
m) 3 Scrolls titled "ninbjor julech" of Satisfy Hunger
n) a Cast Iron Rod of Trap Location
o) a Titanium Wand of Slow Monster (9 charges)
p) a Short Wand of Confuse Monster (16 charges)
q) a Tin Wand of Wonder (21 charges)
r) a Balsa Staff of Teleportation (5 charges)
s) a Tulwar (Planar Weapon) (2d4) (+11,+5) (+2 to searching)
t) 27 Arrows (1d4) (+0,+0)
u) (nothing)
v) (nothing)
w) (nothing)


[Home Inventory (page 1)]

a) (nothing)
b) (nothing)
c) (nothing)
d) (nothing)
e) (nothing)
f) (nothing)
g) (nothing)
h) (nothing)
i) (nothing)
j) (nothing)
k) (nothing)
l) (nothing)


[snip]
--
Igenlode Visit the Ivory Tower http://ivory.vlexofree.com/Tower/

In Europe 100 miles is a long way; in America 100 years is a long time.
Eddie Grove
2015-08-07 22:29:13 UTC
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Post by Igenlode Wordsmith
I always enjoyed Cthangband (the old non-skills-based version) as the most
playable of the 'wilderness'/new races variants, and the multiple dungeons
make it possible to level up characters scarily fast -- if you survive.
Do you think there is any good way to get most of what you like about
multiple dungeons in a Vanilla context?

For example, there could be multiple stairs in town heading to different
depths, so the genereal idea is at least somewhat feasible.

One approach would be to have themed blocks of levels, perhaps fixed or
perhaps varying game to game.
Igenlode Wordsmith
2015-08-12 10:04:00 UTC
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Post by Eddie Grove
Post by Igenlode Wordsmith
I always enjoyed Cthangband (the old non-skills-based version) as the most
playable of the 'wilderness'/new races variants, and the multiple dungeons
make it possible to level up characters scarily fast -- if you survive.
Do you think there is any good way to get most of what you like about
multiple dungeons in a Vanilla context?
For example, there could be multiple stairs in town heading to different
depths, so the genereal idea is at least somewhat feasible.
One approach would be to have themed blocks of levels, perhaps fixed or
perhaps varying game to game.
Part of the interest/excitement of multiple dungeons plus wilderness is that
the danger/inconvenience factor of traversing the wilderness (or sheer
ignorance, when first encountering the game: the dungeons don't come with
help files!) can lead to entering dungeons for which the the very first
level is wildly out of depth, simply because they happen to be near the town
you are in...
(I think Cthangband got it about right as to wilderness size: a relatively
limited number of towns, none of which are more than about two screens
apart, and a relatively high frequency of monster encounters, dangerous more
for lack of available cover than for being high level relative to the
player. The later Zangband wilderness was just silly and got tedious in
practice -- presumably an ASCII imitation of more graphics/map-heavy
strategy games?)

I think part of the point about multiple dungeons in Cthangband is to
provide an additional motive for travelling between towns (for example, the
end dungeon is in a town which you really wouldn't want to travel to
otherwise), while Scrolls of Recall help provide a happy medium between
challenge and boredom: you have to walk to the desired spot originally, but
then you can easily recall between that dungeon and a useful and/or nearby
town. At any rate until you exhaust the town's resources, but at least you
have the chance to explore another town rather than scumming.

Without towns/wilderness I imagine something similar could be done, however.

For example, another feature of Cthangband is random quests for each
dungeon in addition to the themed 'dungeon guardian' at the bottom of each:
at start-up, certain levels are assigned quest monsters, and as soon as you
get down to that level you have to kill, say, ten cave orcs (or some
suitably out-of-depth non-breeding opponent) before a down staircase is
created allowing you to proceed further. Like many of the other features of
Cthangband, the overall result of this is to allow you to level up faster by
throwing extra danger at you early on: the final quest monster also drops
OOD loot, so completing your first quest will give a low-level character a
massive boost, providing that he survives it!

I'm not sure how well this would necessarily work for a single dungeon,
since you wouldn't have the option to abandon that dungeon and try another
one if the random quest monster for that level was something that your
character turned out simply not to be able to handle yet...

You could have sets of stairs in the town (or a town service?) that gave
short-cut access to levels well below the standard staircase -- or perhaps
have them always defined to lead to a level ten or twenty levels below the
current recall depth. One of the advantages of multiple dungeons is the
chance to dash into an insanely dangerous area and perhaps scoop up some
unknown valuable loot or kill some fragile OOD monster and score massive
points, while gambling that you won't get cut off from the stairs that allow
you to retreat.

But this isn't Vanilla -- we're talking about the potentially unbalanced
high-risk-high-return approach that Cth inherited from the early Z variants,
which probably doesn't play very well alongside a slow-and-steady single
dungeon approach.

Likewise the 'tower' and 'arena' dungeon levels: potentially lucrative
(easier to find loot), potentially lethal (harder to escape monsters).

Themed dungeons (e.g. the Yeek Lair or Khufu's Tomb as opposed to, say, the
Vault of the Sword -- Elric's Stormbringer! -- or the Collector's Cave,
which are simply very high-level dungeons) are quite interesting, but I
could see them getting very boring in a single-dungeon context. Five or six
levels all dominated by orcs or undead? Again, that could be a major hold-up
if you had a character who didn't do well against that particular monster
type, even though the themed dungeons contain ample numbers of 'ordinary'
monsters as well.

Basically, I think the excitement of Cth 3.1.x is created to a great degree
specifically by its compressed dungeon format, where higher levels are much
closer to the surface and there are relatively few ordinary levels: it's
almost designed for quick play (and quick death, if you're unlucky) and
happens to be reasonably well-balanced along with that. Though it may well
be extremely exploitable by someone who knows what he is doing: I'm far from
being an experienced high-level Angband player, and one of the attractions
of this variant is that it provides me with an opportunity to see some of
the high level stuff that I never normally get anywhere near. And die :-)

But I've got characters up to clevel 40 in Cth -- wielding Stormbringer is
an actual possibility, if you hit the Vault of the Sword with a high-enough
level character, and then you can go for the really lethal dungeons -- and
I've never been anywhere near that in Vanilla. I've never got near any of
the serious nasty Cthuloid stuff, mind you... I suspect it's just a totally
different power balance, possibly over-powered but fun to play, and I think
multiple dungeons are an inherent part of that but not necessarily the
source of the fun.
--
Igenlode Visit the Ivory Tower http://ivory.vlexofree.com/Tower/

* He who loses his temper has lost the argument *
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