Trunk updates, 17 October 2016

Hi, crawlers! Today is the feature freeze day for 0.19, meaning that it’s all fixes from here until release. Here’s the last batch of major changes:

  • Gods:
    • Beogh can now enchant, upgrade, and uncurse followers’ ranged weapons.
    • Fedhas appreciates all corpse decay, and automatically rots all corpses when the player leaves a level. The ‘fungal bloom’ toadstool-generating effect is now an (a)bility, rather than a (p)rayer effect.
    • Qazlal’s cloud immunity applies to all clouds, not just the player’s.
    • Qazlal’s Elemental Wrath no longer generates neutral or hostile elementals from neutral or hostile clouds.
    • Jiyva’s Jelly Paralyse ability seems to have mysteriously vanished. In the distance, you hear a contented gurgling.
    • Uskayaw ignores damage-over-time effects (sticky flame, poison, and clouds), instead of only allowing piety gain after turns on which the player performed an attack-like action.
    • The (p)rayer action is gone. Altars are now used with < or >, as with shops and portals.
  • Items:
    • Monsters that could be butchered for their hides (trolls and most dragons) now, instead, have a chance of leaving behind the armour equivalents instead on death. Dragon armour has been correspondingly renamed to ‘dragon scales’.
    • Spellbook rarity is fixed! For the first time since 0.4. some spellbooks will be less common on earlier dungeon levels; this was intended throughout, but the code was broken. Such an exciting feature that no one noticed it was missing for eight years…
    • Scimitars and great swords are slightly buffed.
    • The Plutonium Sword no longer turns plants into free xp.
    • Manuals of stealth & unarmed combat are no longer twice as common as other types. (That behaviour was added as a hack years ago, when stabbing/traps & doors skills were removed.)
    • Artefact weapons can now generate with Protection or Chaos brands.
    • Amulets of dismissal suddenly vibrated and disappeared – forever.
  • Monsters:
    • Ushabti Death Rattle now fires miasma, instead of negative energy clouds.
    • Weaker Zot dragons have been replaced with nastier ones.
    • River rats and iguanas have been almost entirely removed from Lair.
    • Hornets and wasps have merged into one monster, roughly averaging their strengths. To avoid confusion, the new monster is called a ‘hornet’. Also it’s yellow.
    • Putrid demonspawn and Chaos Champions have bitten the dust. Blood Saints grabbed the latter’s Call of Chaos. (Pretty rude, IMO…)
    • Also, gelid and infernal demonspawn now have full elemental immunity (to ice/fire respectively), Corrupter’s Corrupt Body (beam-targeted) has been replaced with Corrupting Pulse (fullscreen), and Black Suns lost Malign Offering.
  • Spells:
    • New spell: Lesser Beckoning (L3 Translocations). Pulls the target adjacent to the caster. Range 2 at power 0, 7 (fullscreen) at power 200. Irresistible…
    • Apportation has been replaced in Warpers’ starting book with Lesser Beckoning; various other spellbooks have been slightly tweaked.
    • Irradiate causes significantly less contamination; it should now be safe for 3-4 uses before entering yellow glow.
    • The Haste spell has been removed.
  • Another layer of contamination is now displayed, between grey and yellow glow. This should make it easier to tell when you’re close to being dangerously contaminated.
  • Contamination reduction is now caused specifically by Potions of Cancellation, rather than by all ‘debuffing’ effects.
  • Player species and forms no longer have hidden ‘stealth factors’. Ogres’, Trolls’, and Centaurs’ stealth aptitudes have decreased by a point each, to compensate, Dithmenos’s Shadow Form now gives an explicit stealth multiplier, and various other stealth effects have been slightly tweaked. Wave goodbye as you leave, Remarkably Stealthy Tree Form…
  • Trees are renamed and recoloured (in console) during the effects of Awaken Forest.
  • Bat form no longer prevents quaffing and door use.
  • Berserk now costs hunger on activation, rather than on expiration. It’s no longer possible to avoid the effects of Berserkitis by remaining Very Hungry.
  • auto_butcher now functions only when autoexploring, to make it more useful for characters that might want to use corpses (e.g. necromancers or Fedhasites).
  • The messages_at_top rcfile option should, hopefully, be more useful for people using screenreaders. (It should print messages before printing the rest of the screen; if anyone reading this uses a screenreader, let us know if that helps!)
  • The orb run’s teleport restrictions (slow teleports, uncontrolled blinks, no Portals of Golubria) now apply throughout the Zot branch.
  • A large number of vaults have been added and reworked; Volcano, in particular, has been heavily revised, and should be both more dangerous and more potentially rewarding.
  • Hints mode text has been updated and revised, for the first time in a while.
  • In the last great convulsion of the Great Renaming of 0.19, greater naga are now nagaraja, and greatslings are fustibali. Great!
  • Orc wizards should no longer kill the player on turn 20 of D:1.
  • Skeletonless skeletons will no longer appear in Hell.

Happy crawling!

New Online Score World Record by PurpleRed

The player PurpleRed has set a new overall high score with an amazing Deep Elf Conjurer of Vehumet won with 15 runes in a mere 19,065 turns!

The previous record, a Deep Dwarf Warper of Makhleb won by the legendary Sapher in version 0.17-a, was the culmination of a resurgence of heavy melee characters that has dominated high scoring games for many versions using gods like Makhleb, Cheibriados, and The Shining One together with species good at melee. Although the best “pure magic” Deep Elf won in recent version before PurpleRed returned to speedrunning was still quite fast at 28,416 turns, this is today only good enough for 47th place in the rankings.

Since version 0.17, the removal of controlled teleport and evokable teleport from the ring of teleportation were seen as limitations that might prevent a new score world record from ever being achieved. However not long after winning a 15-rune DECj in an impressive 26,112 turns, PurpleRed ascended this new high scoring game for an incredible 75,249,848 points! Congrats!

Trunk updates, 25 September 2016

Hi, crawlers!

First, a request: if you can read Korean and are interested in us getting these fantastic Korean fan-made loading screens into the main game, please contact us! We’d really like to ask the original artists for permission to use their art in-game. This is now in progress; thanks to everyone who volunteered their help!

Second, here are the latest changes from trunk:

  • We have two new devs: Brannock and CanOfWorms. Feel free to give them a hearty welcome!
  • Monsters:
    • Monster renamings: giant newt -> frilled lizard, giant frogs -> bullfrogs, giant geckos -> leopard geckos, giant leeches -> tyrant leeches, giant eyeballs -> floating eyes, giant spores -> ballistomycete spores, giant orange brains -> glowing orange brains. Hill giants seem unaffected… for now.
    • Iron Giants now throw their allies at the player (as Robin/Polyphemus), instead of throwing the player at their allies..
    • Naga Ritualists’ Virulence spell no longer multiplies poison in the victim’s system; instead, it just applies rPois-.
    • Blink frogs and sixfirhies no longer heal when hit with distortion or electricity, respectively. Sixfirhies gain rElec+++ to make up for it. It’s the end of an era…
    • Tzitzimimeh’s melee attack no longer creates a ring of miasma clouds, but instead applies the rotting & slowing effect directly.
    • Mennas now has a guaranteed sacred weapon; more of a threat, or more of a temptation…?
    • Statues can be stabbed; obsidian and orange crystal statues gain sInv.
    • Turtles no longer withdraw into their shells at low HP.
    • Ragged Hierophants have been gently, lovingly nerfed.
    • Griffons have merged into hippogriffs, which is a little confusing, given that they’re originally both hybrids… anyway, hippogriffs are slightly tougher, and that’s that.
    • Say goodnight, Dan: boulder beetles attempted to squash a developer, but instead just rolled right out of crawl. They will be missed.
  • Species:
    • Halflings and Kobolds have had their aptitudes and attributes adjusted, to make them more distinct. Kobolds gain better intelligence and spellcasting aptitudes, but are slightly worse at weapons; for Halflings, the reverse is true. As Halflings are now a diminutive race well suited to a heavy armour, “sword and board toon” playstyle, you may as well refer to them by the traditional name for that role: Hill Dwarves.
    • Spriggans have the same weapon restrictions as halflings and kobolds, instead of more restrictive ones. “Allows spriggans to wield triple crossbows, and makes morningstars, eveningstars, long swords, scimitars, demon blades, war axes, spears, demon tridents and greatslings one handed for them.” SpBe buff!
    • Vampires have only four distinct blood levels, instead of six: Near Bloodless is merged into Thirsty, and Alive is merged into Full.
    • Mottled draconian sticky flame is now range 3 (was range 1).
  • Items:
    • The Ratskin Cloak has been buffed, from +1 to +2. This was actually an accident, but it seemed like more effort than it was worth to revert…
    • Punk’s freezing brand has been replaced with a new, unique ‘acid’ brand. Duck!
    • The *Confuse randart property is now *Slow.
    • Weapons of protection give a short-lived +7 AC on hit, instead of +5 AC passively.
    • Riposte’s trigger chance has decreased to 1/3, from 1/2.
  • Interface:
    • New rcfile option: auto_butcher, which, when set, travels to & butchers edible corpses during autoexplore. Thanks to mgdelmonte for contributing it!
    • Average monster max HP is now displayed in monster descriptions, above AC and EV.
    • Stepping on manuals IDs them, without them needing to be picked up.
    • Spell noise is now visible in the I/Z casting interface.
    • Clicking on books through the local tiles UI allows you to memorize spells from a specific book, and is now available at zero Spellcasting skill. (Only nineties players will get this…)
    • Auto skill training should be a little smarter now.
  • Branches & Environment:
    • The Desolation of Salt is no longer roughly guaranteed; it’ll appear in maybe ~15% of games, to keep from wearing its welcome out too quickly.
    • Beogh no longer smites creatures that destroy orcish idols.
    • The walls of Slime:5 now vanish entirely after the Royal Jelly dies, instead of simply turning to rock. Look sharp!
    • Ambient noise has been streamlined. It should be more relevant in Shoals and the Desolation, and it’s completely removed from Lair and Orc. Also, it no longer affects stealth, removing one of my favorite obscure special cases.
  • A whole pile of new monster tiles, including skeletal warriors, trolls, efreets, and, in a bittersweet moment, executioners. Thanks to Roctavian for all his great work!
  • Emergency flight is available from forms; if you would instantly die (from drowning/lava), you’ll enter emergency flight instead. It’s probably no longer possible to drown.
  • Hexes are slightly less effective against creatures with exactly 0 MR.
  • Mutations: rough black scales removed, large bone plates switched to give pure +SH, instead of a mix of +SH and +AC.
  • Hepliaklqana wrath no longer suppresses XP-gated effects. This included elemental evokers, Abyss gate spawning, the Evolution mutation, and other gods’ wraths; the latter is some good tech to keep in mind, if you are for some reason playing on a month-old version of trunk.
  • Using Step from Time near enemies with smite-targeted spells (entropy weavers, neqoxecs) will no longer result in the player being hit by those spells dozens of times.
  • The game should no longer crash when entering Tomb:3.

Happy crawling!

XL 9 win by pedritolo!

Player pedritolo has just won a Spriggan Enchanter … at XL 9!

Character sheet and Tavern thread


Trunk updates, 2 September 2016

Hi, crawlers! It’s been a few weeks, so here’s the latest changes from trunk:

  • New timed portal vault: the Desolation of Salt.
    • Entrances appear in Elf and Vaults. (It’s guaranteed to appear in the current trunk, more or less, but that’s just for testing purposes; it’ll become less common shortly.)
    • Features an open layout filled with huge, blinding saltstorms, and ancient, treasure-filled ruins.
    • New monster: saltling, a small golem roughly similar to orc warriors.
    • New monster: peacekeeper, a mechanical beast with Battlecry (affecting other golems) and manticore barbs.
    • New monster: servant of whispers, casting Lightning Bolt and Still Winds, a new effect which temporarily disables all clouds.
    • New monster: ragged hierophant, casting Injury Bond and Resonance Strike, a smite-targeted damage effect that becomes more powerful for every golem next to the target.
    • New monster: imperial myrmidon, a fast, tough melee enemy with a variety of hexes and the ability to halve magic resistance on melee hits.
    • New monster: halazid warlock, a lich with a variety of powerful spells, including Ghostly Sacrifice, which turns an ally into a devastating explosion of negative energy.
    • …and various other guest monsters from other branches, including molten gargoyles and crystal guardians.
    • Tiles by the indomitable CanOfWorms!
  • Monsters:
    • Sheep have been replaced with dream sheep, a new pack monster that, when present in large numbers, can put enemies to sleep.
    • Anubis guards have been merged into ushabti. The latter get anubis guards’ warning cry and dispel undead.
    • Battlecry has been simplified; instead of working differently for every monster that casts it, it always and only affects all allies of the same genus. (So orcs can might other orcs, angels can might other angels, etc.) This means that orc knights can now might warlords.
    • Iron giants are back to speed 10 (from 8), but have had their other stats reduced somewhat.
    • Snorg goes berserk less often, but can berserk from full health.
    • Giant eyeballs now cast Paralysis Gaze in only two tries, instead of three.
    • Instead of sixfirhies being tier 4 demons and chaos spawn being tier 3, the opposite is now true.
    • Monster descriptions have been revised and improved; thanks, MarvinPA!
  • Clarity now gives immunity to sleep.
  • Gozag and exploration gods should now work better in sprints; their gold and piety (respectively) have been multiplied, as with other gods.
  • Beogh no longer enhances worshippers’ armour or shield bonuses.
  • The regeneration mutation’s strength has been doubled, matching most other sources of regeneration (e.g. artefacts). Vine Stalkers now gain regen at XL 4 and 12, instead of 1, 6 and 12.
  • Cure mutation is slightly rarer, though still more common than it was prior to rMut removal.
  • Temporary mutations only have a 50% chance of causing statrot for undead.
  • All temporary allies, including but no longer limited to summons, are unable to attack out of your LOS.
  • Crawl’s secret “monster stealth” mechanics have been removed; all monsters now have the same chance for their location to be guessed at while invisible.
  • Friendly detected monsters (for e.g. Jiyva) no longer interrupt resting.
  • Right clicking on the webtiles minimap should work properly again.
  • Very long-running bug, finally fixed: low-HP monsters will no longer fireball themselves to death or banish their allies. (This also fixed the “Hep allies will confuse the player” bug.)
  • Grate traps should no longer instantly obliterate poorly-placed items.
  • Eustachio the Eustachio Skeleton will no longer appear in anyone’s game.

Happy crawling!

Trunk updates, 17 August 2016

Hi, crawlers! It’s been a while; those late summer doldrums, or late winter, for you strange people living upside-down. Whichever your preferred orientation, here’s the latest changes from trunk:

  • Monsters:
    • Jellies no longer eat any items, even unseen ones, unless the player is worshipping Jiyva.
    • Zombies, skeletons, &c now display damage taken (a health bar, etc), like other enemy types.
    • Zombies are now named by their base type (e.g. ‘centaur warrior zombie’), rather than their base species (‘centaur zombie’).
    • Necromancers’ Bind Souls now creates simulacra, not spectral things. This will, ideally, increase player deaths.
    • The Ghostly Fireball monster spell is now pure negative energy, rather than being partially irresistible. It also now inflicts drain.
    • Call of Chaos has had its effects reworked, and will no longer paralyse or petrify every monster in sight.
  • Spells:
    • Spells you’ve seen monsters cast are now automatically tracked. This is useful for monsters with multiple spellbooks, which now list in their descriptions only those spellbooks that they might have (based on the spells you’ve seen). Pandemonium Lords also list the spells you’ve seen them cast.
    • Spellbooks that the player walks onto or apports are now automatically identified, without needing to use the (r)ead command.
    • Book amnesia (the ability to forget spells by destroying a book that contains them) has been forgotten, and also removed from the game.
    • Paralysis and Confusion can no longer last for 50-100 turns when cast on monsters. (Players had, and have, a different formula that gives considerably shorter durations.)
    • Warp Weapon and the Akashic Record have been removed.
  • Characters:
    • rN has been reworked. Various effects (e.g. vampirism, pain) that were 100% resisted by a single level of rN now require 3 levels; rN provides 50%, 75%, and 100% immunity to them at rN+/++/+++, as with damage. The Agony effect now works like Torment, and goes down to 45%/40%/35% hp damage at rN+/++/+++.
    • Stabbing has been simplified. There are now exactly two types of stabs: those against helpless (sleeping/paralysed/petrified) targets, and those against merely distracted targets. In effect, this is mainly a buff to petrification and distraction stabbing, at least for now.
    • There is no longer an EV penalty for taking stairs, but the process of climbing/descending stairs now takes slightly longer.
    • Sustain Attributes (the ring, Dg innate, etc) is no more. Most stat-draining effects have been reduced to compensate.
    • Mutations no longer rot the undead, but only cause stat-draining.
    • The mummy Self-Restoration ability has rotted away.
  • Gods:
    • Most gods that require kills for piety are now less picky, and will accept kills of any monster type, including nonliving monsters and plants. (TSO and Zin remain exceptions.)
    • Divine piety decay has been simplified to one of two speeds, from seven or so. Some gods have had their piety gain speed buffed to compensate. (For other gods, the change was itself a buff!)
    • Hepliaklqanal now gives innate frail 1 on worship; this persists even after abandonment, until the god is mollified.
    • Pakellas has been temporarily disabled, until we figure out what is going on. Hopefully he’ll be back in time for the next stable release.
  • Daevas can now smite unsuspecting targets.
  • Zombies can no longer shapeshift.

Happy crawling!

Trunk updates, 12 July 2016

Hi, crawlers! Trunk has changed. It will never be the same, unless we perform a truly remarkable and unprecedented series of reverts. Barring that, here’s what you might want to know:

  • Sif Muna:
    • Channel Energy is gone. Replacing it at 1* is Divine Energy, a toggleable ability that lets the player cast spells without having enough mp. Using this effect causes a -Cast status for several turns, depending on how many MP the player was short by.
    • New 3* ability: Channel Magic, a Trog’s Hand-like invocation that trades piety for a brief, but significant, MP regeneration boost.
    • Book gifts now appear starting from 5*, not 6*.
    • Sif now gives partial piety for kills, in addition to (slightly reduced) piety from skill training.
  • Players wielding long blades can now ‘riposte’. After dodging a melee attack, users have a 50% chance to launch a free counterattack. This does not trigger retaliation effects, such as porcupine spines or hydra head growth, but functions as a normal attack otherwise. Long blade base damage has been lowered to compensate.
  • The Fencer’s Gloves no longer give bonuses to Sbl & Lbl skill; instead, they let the user riposte with any weapon. This stacks with long blades’ innate riposte.
  • Various unrands have had their stats tweaked; the most notable change is to Eos, which trades its sInv -Tele for Brilliance’s halo. (Wyrmbane also trades +Rage for rC+.)
  • Removed unrands: Sword of the Doom Knight, Amulet of Cekugob, and Brilliance (except for the bits Eos took).
  • Ammo acquirement is no more.
  • The last mountain dwarf has finally been removed; please, pour one out for our dear, departed Wiglaf. Donald got his Haste and Might, and Joseph stole his hat.
  • Urug and Maud have merged into one very smelly, well-armed unique.
  • Nergalle can no longer enter Death’s Door.
  • Various monster spellsets have been reworked; notably, wizards’, ogre mages’, ancient champions’, and Kirke’s.
  • The Vaults branch monster set has been partially reworked; among other changes, vampire mosquitoes have been buzzed off, fire crabs have clattered away, and entropy weavers are… in.
  • “Special rooms” (rare rooms completely packed with monsters) have had their sets adjusted, and can now appear in Pan.
  • rPois now gives immunity to green draconians’ mephitic breath. (It was previously resisted by nothing, not even by the undead!)
  • Summoned monsters now vanish immediately when their summoner dies.
  • Allies no longer mark fireballed plants as priority targets.
  • Friendly monsters will no longer open doors. (This was generally either irrelevant or a bad thing for the player.)
  • Giving orders to allies no longer makes noise, and can be done while silenced. Hand signals or telepathy? You decide…
  • Sickness no longer has a chance of causing attribute damage.
  • The interface for eating food from the floor has been made somewhat more consistent with other floor-item use.
  • Kiku no longer gives the player extra HP while under Death’s Door.
  • Good gods no longer mind the player drinking a little blood, here and there.
  • Elyvilon’s no longer even pretends to care about the player letting their allies die.
  • Pakellas’s Quick Charge is no longer more powerful at 0 evocations than at 27.
  • Stoned creatures no longer stumble.

Happy crawling! Don’t let the death scarabs bite :)

Trunk updates, 27 June 2016

Hi, crawlers! Trunk changes?

  • Spells:
    • New spell: Infestation (L8 Necromancy), found in the Necronomicon. Targets a 5×5 area; victims inside become ‘infested’, and, when killed, friendly death scarabs will pop out. Friends!
    • Alistair’s Intoxication only inflicts Vertigo on the caster if it succeeds in confusing any monsters.
    • Confusing Touch is back to level 1 (and the Book of Cantrips), after its long stay at level 2.
    • Hydra form devouring is no longer limited to victims smaller than a hydra. Yum! Support for extra-spicy meals has also been added.
    • Cure Poison has been removed. From the commit:
      Trivia: This was the last player-castable vestige of the pre-Stone Soup ‘Holy’ spell school. RIP ;_;
  • Monsters:
    • New unique: Bai Suzhen, Madame White Snake. A late-game draconian unique, she casts Summon Hydras; when severely injured, she enters her true form (a water dragon) and becomes surrounded by a ring of storm clouds. Also she gets water breath. Fierce! (this is what the refrance.)
    • Necromancer monsters can now cast Bind Soul, causing nearby monsters to reform as spectral things after death. (Somewhat like Death Channel.)
    • Almost all monster ‘shouts’ are now the same volume. The only exceptions are ‘hisses’, which are half volume, ‘deafening roars’, 1.5x, and ‘deep rumbles’, 2x. Also, pigs now squeal, and a few other monsters have had their shout behaviour changed.
    • Entropy weavers have become faster, but cast Word of Entropy less often. Also, now they’re ant-men, finally answering the question of “what are these weird things, exactly?”
    • Death scarabs lost their miasma trail, but are somewhat tougher.
    • Tzitzimitl no longer have pain or draining brands.
    • Ditto the bennu draining brand.
    • Obsidian statues can now Mesmerise. Stare into their spooky jeweled eyes…
    • Young spriggan druids have been replaced by boggarts. They really were too young to die…
    • The Cloud Mage has come into his or her rightful inheritance: Tornado.
  • Gods:
    • Nemelex Xobeh’s decks have been reworked, again. Current list:
      • Escape: the Tomb, Exile, the Elixir, the Cloud, Velocity, the Shaft
      • Destruction: Vitriol, the Storm, Pain, the Orb, Degeneration, Wild Magic
      • Summoning: the Elements, the Pentagram, the Dance, Foxfire, the Rangers, the

      If it’s not in here and it’s not a wrath effect, it’s not in the game.

    • The Vitriol card applies corrosion to all monsters in LOS.
    • Hep no longer provides additional ‘specialization’ choices beyond the initial ancestor class choice. Ancestor upgrades have been moved from XL21 to XL19 and from XL27 to XL24.
    • Hep’s Transference now drains targets at 5*, rather than slowing them.
    • Hepliaklqana’s ability piety costs are slightly higher.
  • Items:
    • Rapiers have +1 base damage, matching falchions.
    • The amulet of dismissal now only triggers on hits that do at least 10% of the wearer’s max HP.
    • *Drain items and “Harm now apply 50% more draining when taken off.
    • Vorpal weapons are no longer extra-likely to chop off hydra heads.
    • Books can now be ID’d by (r)eading them while on the floor. (Ideally this should be automatic, but it’s not quite yet.)
    • Scrolls of random uselessness can no longer create butterflies. Somewhere, a tiny bell tinkles for the last time…
  • Yiuf’s hut now has a runed door. Poor guy lost his keys… go let him out, wouldn’t you?
  • The minimum, average and maximum number of altars in Temple has increased, by about 2 each.
  • There is now a strong correlation between disco balls and demonic runes.
  • Quite a lot of other new and changed vaults. I shan’t spoil them, but I will say that several contain rare & powerful artefacts. Be on the lookout…
  • Web traps are no longer torn & destroyed when creatures escape from them.
  • The Monk background gains a choice of weapon, but no longer gets a choice of Dg.
  • Storm clouds have a 1/3 per-turn chance of striking (up from 1/4), but have dramatically less ‘spiky’ damage; from 40-131 down to 35-80.
  • You can no longer ID gold.

Happy crawling!

Trunk Updates, 12 June 2016

Hi, crawlers! Summer’s in full swing (or winter, for those of you in the southern hemisphere), so here’s the latest changes from trunk:

  • Potions, scrolls and books can all now be used from the floor, instead of needing to be picked up first. Scrolls of Identify can also be used on floor items.
  • It’s no longer possible to drown from Flight expiring. Instead, if your flight runs out when over deep water (if you can’t swim) or lava, you’ll enter ‘emergency flight mode’ and take heavy drain until you reach solid ground again. (This includes Flight from monster-cast Tornado.) It’s still possible to drown if a flying transformation (e.g. dragon form) expires… for now.
  • In tiles, monster attitudes (e.g. friendly, neutral, etc) are now displayed by coloured circles behind the monster, instead of small icons in the corner of their tile. Should be helpful for ally play, hopefully!
  • Lair is now six floors (-2), and Slime is now five (-1).
  • Gods:
    • To minimize Okawaru-related confusion, Ukayaw is now known as Uskayaw.
    • U’s Line Pass always confuses its victims, but for a shorter duration than before.
    • Hepliaklqana’s slow-on-transference ability has been repeatedly fixed and should hopefully work now. Fingers crossed.
    • H’s hexer ‘specialization’ choice has been moved from level 15 to level 21; instead of choosing between Metabolic Englaciation and Paralyse, Paralyse is a gimme, and the choice is between Englaciation and Mass Confusion.
    • H’s battlemage melee damage has been dramatically increased, and their level 15 specialization choice is now between Bolt of Magma and Force Lance (formerly Iceblast). But that’s probably going get replaced too, so don’t put too much effort into remembering it.
    • Misc ancestor changes: ancestor kills now give full XP (like spectral weapon), but their AC has been reduced somewhat.
    • Nemelex Xobeh’s abilities now use invocations, not evocations.
    • Dithmenos’s Shadow Step can no longer be used on allies, or when you’re a tree.
  • Vampire players can now berserk and transform when merely satiated, without needing to be Full.
  • Demonic guardians (from the demonspawn mutation) can no longer be angered by the player.
  • New monster: meliai, bee priestesses based on obscure Greek mythology. They smite, they sting, they come in packs of three… what more could you want?
  • Asterion’s spectral weapon has been replaced by a Greater Servant of Makhleb.
  • Norris is gone, but Xtahua swiped his Paralyse before he left.
  • Various uniques have had their genders adjusted.
  • Salamander stormcallers have called their last; they are no more.
  • Boxes of beasts & sacks of spiders no longer have charges, but instead have a fixed 25% chance of disintegrating after each use. They now stack.
  • Elemental evokers have been differentiated a little more; the lamp of fire and fan of gales no longer create elementals when used, the phial of floods does less impact damage, and the stone of tremors has been removed.
  • Amulets of harm now increase damage dealt by 30% and damage taken by 20%, instead of increasing both by 25%.
  • Rods can now be gained from misc acquirement, instead of from staff acquirement; accordingly, staff acquirement is no longer available for Troggites.
  • Player-created non-opaque clouds now vanish instantly outside LOS, instead of just dissipating four times faster.
  • Olgreb’s Toxic Radiance does a little less damage, but no longer poisons the caster.
  • Removed cards: Dowsing, Exile, Feast, Focus, Helix, Mercenary and Xom.
  • Removed decks: changes, defense, summoning, wonders, and oddities (the one that you had a 1% chance of drawing from when using any deck). Decks can now only be found by worshiping Nemelex, or possibly from rare vaults.
  • The monster spell Control Winds (on wind drakes, spriggan air mages, and the Cloud Mage) has blown right outta town.
  • The evasion ego, and the randart blowguns that used it, are both no more.
  • Xom will no longer vitrify your surroundings. :(
  • Distortion weapons no longer banish individual kraken tentacles.
  • Ghosts of dead trees no longer get bonus AC.

Happy crawling!

0.18 Tournament Results

Editor’s Note: This post was written by chequers, who put in a great deal of work to make this year’s tournament happen. If you played in it this year, please give him your thanks!

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup 0.18 tournament! This (slightly delayed) post will go over the results and highlights of the event.

More than 2500 players participated, with a third of players collecting a rune, and half of those going on to win.

Some stats, with comparisons to the last tournament:

(Individual images here.)

Individual Winners
First place goes to Yermak, who won comfortably with 6260 points. Yermak has been a regular sight at the top of recent DCSS tournaments, placing second or third in the 0.14, 0.15 and 0.16 competitions. His wins in this tournament include at least one with every species, background and god, making him the first tournament greaterplayer and polytheist!

Second place was taken by Demise. As well as collecting 5648 points, Demise won the fastest game of crawl ever in 41:00 minutes*! As well as second individual place, his clan Distracted by YoutubeDollars** also came in second.

Rounding out the podium, third place is awarded to Ultraviolent4 with 5459 points. Also part of Demise’s clan, Ultraviolent4 had the equal second longest streak of eight wins in a row***.

Clan Winners

Top clan was AWBW – Ban Blowguns – End Needles Violence, led by WalkerBoh (#6) with members MorganLeah, Snack (#9), moose, n1000 and Lasty.

Second place was Distracted by YoutubeDollars, led by Demise (#2) with members BobtheCannibal69, Megaslime, Ultraviolent4 (#3), chequers and krfreak.

Third place goes to The Shining Kimchi, a clan hailing from the Korean crawl community. It was led by irum and made up of Dowan, SilvereR, mooon, sheltermaker01 and thrrja.

Notable Achievements

The most commonly collected banner was “Vow of Courage I: Kill Sigmund before entering the Depths”, earned by 1495 players. The least common was a tie between “The Heretic III: Over the course of the tournament, abandon and mollify nine gods excluding Beogh, Elyvilon, Ru, The Shining One, and Zin.” and “Ruthless Efficiency III: Win the game before reaching experience level 19.”, each collected by just four players.

Yermak had the longest streak of the tournament, winning 10 games in a row. His streak was broken by a d:1 shaft—see, it happens to the best of us!

The most successful ghost was Iamsock‘s, who killed 27(!) players, including themselves seven times.

Most impressive tournament stats goes to xeno23. They played just six games in the tournament and won them all, five of which were 15-rune games. Congratulations!

Finally, a massive thank you to elliptic. For the past five years he quietly coded and ran DCSS’s tournaments. He’s passed on the crown this time around, but without his help and assistance this year’s would have never come to fruition. Cheers!


* as a point of reference, the second fastest win ever took 48 minutes and the average won game is around eight and a half hours long

** full disclosure: your scribe was part of this clan, contributing a mere 7% of points. He probably won’t be invited back next year

*** it would have been nine, but Ultraviolent4 won two games with the Monk background, so the second wasn’t counted. Bad luck!

Trunk Updates, 25 May 2016

Hi, crawlers! The tournament is over, so it’s time for trunk changes. Fair warning: there’s a lot of them! So I broke it up with some screenshots of the new tiles (described near the end), just for you.

  • Gods:
    • Ukayaw the Reveler, god of ecstatic dance.
      • Tactical piety: gain piety by damaging enemies, lose piety extremely rapidly over time.
      • 1*: Stomp: deal damage to all adjacent enemies, increasing with their max HP and with your Invocations skill.
      • 2*: Line Pass: instantly pass through a contiguous line of enemies, confusing some.
      • Solo Time: On reaching 3*, all visible enemies are briefly paralysed, for a time increasing with Invocations skill.
      • Pain Bond: On reaching 4*, all visible enemies gain the Pain Bond status, causing them to share damage taken with other nearby Pain Bonded enemies. This can cascade!
      • 5*: Grand Finale: spend all piety to telefrag target intelligent monster. They explode.
    • Hepliaklqana the Forgotten, god of ancestral memory.
      • On joining, grants a permanent ancestor spirit that fights alongside you. The ancestor increases in power as you level up, and will reappear on a delay after dying or being trapped in the Abyss.
      • 0*: Recall: recall your ancestor. Works across different floors.
      • 2*: Remember Life: choose between Hexer, Knight or Battlemage classes for your ancestor.
        • Hexer: starts out with Slow, Confuse, and a dagger of draining. At XL 15, trades Slow for either Paralyse or Metabolic Englaciation (player’s choice). At XL 21, trades Confuse for Mass Confusion. At XL 27, swaps the dagger for an antimagic quickblade.
        • Knight: starts out with a shield, long blade, and bonus AC. At XL 15, swaps to either a flaming broad axe or demon trident (player’s choice). At XL 21, the shield becomes large & reflecting. At XL 27, the weapon switches to a speed ego.
        • Battlemage: starts out with Throw Frost, Stone Arrow, and a quarterstaff. At XL 15, trades Throw Frost for either Iceblast or Bolt of Magma (player’s choice). At XL 21, swaps the quarterstaff for a freezing lajatang. At XL 27, swaps Stone Arrow for Lehudib’s Crystal Spear.
      • 3*: Transference: swap your ancestor with another creature in LOS. The player is a creature in LOS.
      • 4*: Idealise: heal your ancestor, remove harmful status conditions, and apply the Idealise buff, which increases AC and doubles damage & spellpower for the duration. Duration & healing amount scale with Invocations.
      • 5*: Transference slows enemies adjacent to the target, for a duration dependent on Invocations power.
      • Piety gained by exploration.
    • Many divine abilities have had their hunger costs removed (ABCJMOP1) or increased (KTY).
    • Beogh’s water walking now lasts until you reach shore, even if you drop below the required piety, enter penance, etc. Funny though “drowning by using Smite too many times in a row” was.
    • Pakellas’s wrath no longer drains the player or their devices, but instead passively prevents device use for its duration.
    • Pakellas suppresses Vine Stalkers’ MP draining bite. (It still applies damage & antimagic.)
    • Pakellas no longer gifts potions of magic to mummies.
    • Dithmenos’s Shadow Step can now be used to step into invisible enemies’ invisible shadows.
    • Monsters hated by your god (e.g. wizards for Trog) can once again be temporarily enslaved.
    • Gozag will no longer attempt to bribe your own summons.
  • Deep elf archers no longer fire in melee.
  • Hellions no longer resist fire or are vulnerable to cold.
  • Unrands:
    • The arbalest ‘Damnation’ no longer provides resistances, but does significantly more damage.
    • Firestarter and Frostbite now provide immunity to fire & cold clouds respectively; the duration of the latter’s clouds have increased.
    • The Staff of Olgreb now has a fixed +9 enchantment, rather than varying by the player’s Poison skill.
    • The Trident of the Octopus King now has twice as large an enchantment bonus per Octopus King ring worn; can *you* get the legendary +24 Trident?
    • The Sword of Zonguldrok no longer creates hostile dead (when an enemy dies due to something other than its attacks) or curses itself
    • The Mace of Variability no longer uncurses itself every turn.
  • The amulet of harm is no longer evil.
  • Corrosion slaying penalties now apply to unarmed & auxiliary (e.g. hoof) attacks.
  • All monster-wielded (or dancing) branded weapons are now listed when they come into sight; this should be helpful for noticing, for example, that d:1 goblin with a dagger of electrocution.
  • Spells:
    • Elemental enhancers (e.g. staves of earth, rings of fire) no longer penalise casting spells of the opposite element.
    • Cigotuvi’s Embrace no longer degrades when taking damage.
    • Simulacrum’s duration is somewhat reduced.
    • Dazzling Spray’s damage is slightly lower.
  • Tiles:
    • Jewellery tiles have been completely replaced.
    • Mutant beasts (from the box of beasts) now have custom tiles that display their exact combination of traits.
    • Many more types of zombies, especially those of early-game creatures, now have custom tiles.
    • Many low-level demons have new tiles.
  • X> once again finds the closest set of stairs by travel distance, rather than by grid distance.
  • For the first time in three years, being in water not only claims to prevent player invisibility from working (because of the disturbance you leave), but actually does so.
  • The player being silenced no longer prevents monsters from shouting.
  • Muted monsters can once again bristle with rage.
  • Sheep now bleat.
  • Inscribing an item with “<ice>” no longer crashes the game.

Happy crawling!

New Server CJR is Online and CAO Updated for 0.18 Tournament

Thanks to ZiBuDo, in time for the 0.18 tournament we have a new WebTiles/console server running in Montreal, Canada, with the official acronym CJR:

Yes, everything you see on that page was done intentionally, and we sincerely beg you not to encourage ZiBuDo to add more memes…

This server supports 0.17, 0.18, and trunk for both WebTiles and console over SSH with hourly automatic trunk updates. CJR also has an IRC bot, Jorgrell, available in ##crawl to announce milestones and list versions. The server has been added to the CAO scoring pages, and your games played there should show up on your score page soon. ZiBuDo has additionally made a leader board tracking various records for games played on CJR.

Thanks to the efforts of neil, CAO is now updated for 0.18 and will be ready for the 0.18 tournament! We were previously unsure if we’d be able to get the server updated in time, but now your v0.18 games played and clan memberships defined on CAO will indeed count for this tournament.

At this time, CWZ, the South Korean server, is the only server we’ve been unable to get updated with 0.18 for the tournament. If anyone can reach the admin of this server, who plays under the account Hong, please do so. Developers in the ##crawl-dev channel can help answer questions about updating the server.
CWZ was updated shortly before the tournament started.

Crawl 0.18: “Pakellas’s Packrats”

We’re proud to announce the release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup 0.18: “Pakellas’s Packrats”! 0.18 features a new god and many other additions, streamlinings, and general improvements to the game.

Download DCSS 0.18 here, or play it online on one of many servers across the world! The Windows packages are available now, as well as the source; the Linux and OS X binaries should be online within a few days.
Update: The hotfix release 0.18.1 is now available.
Update #2: Linux debs of 0.18.1 are now available.
Update #3: OS X packages are now available.

The release tournament begins on May 6 2016, at 20:00 UTC, with all online 0.18 games counting towards your score. See the tournament website for more details, including how to set up or join a clan.

0.18′s highlights include:

  • Spells: Charms have been rethought and reworked, and a new spell, Yara’s Violent Unravelling, allows you to punish any enemies with charms of their own.
  • Branches: The Elven Halls have a new set of enemies, there’s a new way to make your way through (or out of) the Abyss, and the Orcish Mines are half as long, but twice as packed with gold.
  • Items: Magical jewellery and wands have both been massively reworked, with many new types appearing and old types gone. Try out the new Amulet of Harm, which increases all damage dealt by – and to – the wearer!
  • Monsters: Many monsters have been reworked or added, with a special focus on the early and very late game.
  • Gods: Pakellas the Inventive gifts and empowers magical evocables, such as wands and rods. Yredremnulites can now enslave the souls of angels and demons, and Beoghites can bring their followers back from the dead.

For a list of other major changes, see the changelog. Many thanks to all those who have contributed to Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. We hope you enjoy playing 0.18!

0.18 Beta, Release & Tournament Info

The 0.18 tournament will begin in just over a week! From 20:00 UTC Friday 6 May through 20:00 UTC Sunday 22 May, any 0.18 game played on any of the online servers will count for the tournament. 0.18 will be officially released a few days before the start of the tournament.

The rules page will contain all the details about how to score points and earn banners in the tournament. We’re still settling on the rules for this tournament, but they’ll probably be pretty similar to previous years’.

As usual, clans (teams of up to six players) can be formed and changed until one week into the tournament, so don’t panic if you aren’t on one yet! (Being on a clan isn’t necessary to participate in the tournament, but it can be a lot of fun.)

Once the tournament has started, the tournament leaderboard will contain the current results. (Before tournament start, some scores might briefly appear on this page as we test the tournament scripts, but they are just for testing.)

If you want to get a head-start, the 0.18 beta is now out. It is now playable on our Australian server, CPO, and should be available on other servers soon. Local beta binaries should also be available in the immediate future. (See also the 0.18 changelog.)

See you soon!

Trunk updates, 20 April 2016

Hi, crawlers! We’re in feature freeze right now, so here’s the last batch of changes for 0.18 trunk:

  • Gods:
    • Pakellas now gifts exactly one weak wand, one strong wand, one charge-based evoker, and one XP evoker as characters advance in piety, rather than gifting an endless succession of evocables.
    • Lugonu’s Banish no longer has a power cap; instead of reaching maximum power at 10.5 Invocations, it scales smoothly up to 27 Invocations. It’s also somewhat harder to invoke.
    • Ru’s sacrifice descriptions are somewhat more verbose and, hopefully, more useful.
    • Enemies buffed by Gozag’s wrath remain buffed until slain.
  • Monsters:
    • Shadow fiends have been renamed and rethemed to Tzitzimitl, Aztec skeletal demon-gods which threatened to devour the sun. Their defenses are slightly better than before, and their attacks create a ring of miasma around (but not on) the player’s tile, similarly to the late, lamented salamander firebrands.
    • Giant eyeballs are back! They can show up in Depths and Slime, accompanied by tough allies. They’ve also gone from slow to normal speed, but need to charge up twice before being able to paralyse the player, similar to orb spiders or salamander stormcallers.
    • Lich & ancient liches have spellbooks again, instead of per-lich randomly-generated spell lists.
    • Salamander stormcallers have traded their Sticky Flame for a higher rate of Fire Storm casting.
    • Iron Giants have been slowed to 80% speed.
    • Hell Hogs now spit Fireballs. Beware, or your bacon may be cooked…
    • Demonic, angelic, and ‘magical’ spells have all been merged into one category. This primarily affects descriptions.
    • Monsters can no longer use vampiric drain on gargoyles, nor heal from draining summoned creatures.
    • Monsters can no longer zap or evoke equipment while confused or fleeing.
  • Items:
    • Rods are no longer treated as weapons; hitting someone with a magic rod is no longer more effective than hitting them with a rolled-up scroll. (Previously, they functioned as… clubs.) They can no longer be cursed.
    • Scrolls of enchant weapon & enchant armour no longer remove curses.
    • Ziggurat figurines can be used even after having sacrificed Evocations through Ru.
    • The lantern of shadows has faded, mysteriously, into the shadows.
    • Sniper can no longer miss. Its enchantment has been correspondingly downgraded to +9, from +15.
    • Arrows, bolts & sling bullets no longer have brands.
    • Poison needles scale with skill; they reach their old effectiveness at 8 Throwing, and improve from there.
  • Throwing speed scales like weapon skills, rather than being like unarmed combat; it’s floored at 0.7 turns per toss, up from 0.5, but scales faster with skill.
  • Wild/subdued magic are both much less dramatic; each level of the mutation has been reduced in severity to about 60% of what they were before. (E.g., wild magic 1 increases spellpower by 30%, instead of 50%.) Subdued magic’s effects on spell failure were reduced even further, to reinforce its status as a bad mutation.
  • If you would starve with food in your inventory, you will automatically eat that food instead.
  • rElec reduces damage by 2/3rds, rather than 3/4ths.
  • ‘Defensive actions’ (dodging, blocking, etc) can now be listed in morgues.
  • Wind Blast no longer misleadingly claims to ‘summon’ wind; instead, it correctly conjures wind, in accordance with Dungeon Crawl lore.
  • The Abyss has been decisively deanthropomorphised.
  • High score entries featuring mountain dwarves that died of stupidity no longer crash the game.

Happy crawling!

Trunk updates, 23 March 2016

Hi, crawlers! Here’s the latest changes from trunk:

  • It’s now possible to make progress through the Abyss via murder. Killing monsters will eventually generate an exit from the Abyss; further kills will generate stairs down, if you’re looking to fetch the abyssal rune before leaving. The speed at which this occurs depends on the XP value of the monsters killed and on your current level, so a single kill at very low level will often generate an exit.
  • Large abominations have some extremely cool new tiles, thanks to CanOfWorms. Check them out the next time you take an Abyssal jaunt!
  • Hellfire is now Damnation. It no longer melts ice armour or triggers Dith’s fire conduct, but is otherwise unchanged.
  • Explosions can now ignite trees; Fireball, for example, can now ignite trees with its explosion, not just with the center of the fireball itself. The Rod of Ignition can also now burn trees.
  • New option: autofight_warning, disabling autofight (tab) if successive commands are received too quickly. Should be helpful in cases of lag or accident.
  • Monsters should be less likely to ‘flip-flop’ between emerging from behind a corner to take pot-shots at the player & retreating back behind that corner.
  • Ally AI will no longer lock up when ordered to attack a monster that’s invisible to them.
  • D:1 gnolls no longer have a chance of spawning with a pile of throwing nets.
  • The ‘roused’ and ‘battle-frenzied’ monster status effects have been removed and replaced with Might. This is mainly a simplification and should have relatively little impact on gameplay, with the possible exception of spriggan druids’ death effect; the latter’s duration has been shortened to partially compensate.
  • Status effect descriptions have been moved from the manual to an in-game lookup tool, ?/s(T)atus. Existing descriptions have been reworded & clarified, and more have been added.
  • To reduce visual clutter, the tile_show_demon_tier option is now off by default, meaning that demon tiles no longer have pentagrams added.
  • Tar:7 should be somewhat more threatening to any character who worries about packs of shadow fiends.
  • Zot:5 no longer has a 1/3 chance of spawning extra-huge numbers of traps.
  • Some of the easier wizlabs have been buffed; the Cloud Mage has a nastier spellset and more friends, and Cigotuvi’s Monster is now a mutant beast, not a tentacled monstrosity.
  • Maxwell’s Etheric Cage now multiplies received magical contamination, rather than intermittently generating chunks of contamination.
  • Ongoing spell effects (r/dMsl, delayed fireball) are now removed after forgetting the spell.
  • Tukima’s Dance’s power multiplier has been reduced.
  • Player breath weapon ranges have been belatedly adjusted for squarelos.
  • Ru’s Sacrifice Courage now gives a penalty to slaying, rather than giving a bonus to damage.
  • It is no longer possible to use Pakellas to supercharge non-evocables. Relatedly, you can no longer create +72 clubs.
  • It is no longer possible to unequip a Fragile item without destroying it. (By putting it in your quiver and tossing it away.)

Happy crawling!

Trunk updates, 6 March 2016

Hi, crawlers! Here’s the latest changes from trunk:

  • Beogh no longer gives piety for sacrificing dead orcs’ bodies. Instead, they can be brought back from the dead with a new 6* ability, Resurrection. Hostile orcs will be converted by the experience. Saint Roka may be tough to persuade to your side, but he’s considerably less so once he’s dead…
  • Also, orcs will no longer drop items that you’ve gifted them, even if they preferred whatever weapon/armour they had before.
  • Monster changes:
    • New monster: Dart Slug, a slow D:1 monster with a ranged attack. It probably won’t kill you, but it’ll be very funny if it does.
    • New monster: Howler Monkey, an early D monster that’s fairly weak, but makes a heck of a lot of noise. On later levels, they spawn in packs.
    • New monster: Rime Drake, replacing fire drakes. Very similar, but instead of fire, they breathe Flash Freeze, a single-target cold-damage spell that slows victims’ movements for a few turns after they’re hit.
    • Flash Freeze can sometimes miss, though if Antaeus is casting it, it probably won’t.
    • Pandemonium lord generation has been considerably reworked, hopefully resulting in more distinctive foes.
    • Nymphs will flood any type of adjacent walkable terrain, including shops and stairs. They’re also significantly more fragile.
    • Shock serpents’ discharge now only strikes whatever hit it, rather than all enemies (but not any of the serpent’s allies!) in a wide area.
    • Deep Elf High Priests and Sorcerers no longer cast Summon Demon.
  • New command: “?#” lets you browse your character dump in-game.
  • Qazlal’s wrath can now summon a range of elemental-themed creatures, rather than just elementals of subtly-varying HD.
  • Gozag no longer demands any service fee in sprint, rather than demanding a significant fraction of all gold on the entire map to join.
  • Covering a ziggurat in gold with Gozag no longer causes enemies to be completely paralyzed.
  • “Megazigs” (ziggurats entered after fully clearing previous ziggurat(s)) are now considerably nastier, and should give a bit more of a challenge to players & characters who are capable of fully clearing multiple ziggurats.
  • Ziggurats no longer all have the same layout in a given game.
  • The rMut artefact property now works the same as the mutation: a 2/3rd chance of preventing mutations, down from 9/10.
  • Mass Confusion is no longer a player-castable spell.
  • Passwall’s range is now fixed for a given spellpower (& displayed on the spell screen), rather than being random per-cast.
  • Needles of slowing have been removed.
  • Blowguns no longer have extra power when ‘stabbing’ unaware targets.
  • Monsters can no longer pick up items from stacks you’ve seen, even if you haven’t seen the specific items that they’re trying to pick up.
  • However, Maurice can now pick things up from the floor. Even things you’ve seen! Is he cheating…?
  • It’s no longer possible to evolve a permanently petrified plant into a permanently petrified oklob.
  • Spectral shapeshifters can now once again turn into something other than spectral ghost crabs.
  • Vampires can no longer drink ghosts’ blood.
  • Bribed demons can no longer escape Hell.
  • Dumb monsters can no longer shout.
  • Dead monsters can no longer shout.

Thanks to chequers for helping to compile this post.

Happy crawling!

A Brief History Of Buffness

Recently, I’ve been having many conversations about the same subject. People see that we’ve removed various buffs (spells that temporarily improve the player’s stats – Stoneskin, Condensation Shield, Phase Shift), or that we’ve changed others (Ozocubu’s Armour) to be more situational. So they ask, why?

The Problem With Buffs

Dungeon Crawl is a long game. A 3-rune game, on average, takes about six and a half hours to win. (Often longer – very skilled players drag down the average.) An ‘extended’ game, getting all 15 runes, takes twice as long – about 13 hours, on average. And, of course, not all games are won – only one in a hundred! The average unwon game is considerably shorter (about 20 minutes), but weight of numbers will tell – on average, each won game represents a great amount of playtime, thousands of fights and hundreds of thousands of turns.

There’s nothing wrong with a long game, of course, but it does change what makes sense to design. In a shorter game – a sprint, perhaps – a spell that you cast at the start of every fight, or just every 50 turns, isn’t too bad. In Crawl’s main game, though, remembering to refresh your buffs regularly gets tiring very fast! And if you don’t, you’re just reducing your chance to win (passing up free AC, EV, SH…) for no benefit but retaining a tenuous grip on sanity. That’s exactly the sort of choice that Crawl is opposed to; opposing ‘optimal play’ to ‘fun’.

This was the space that many of Crawl’s ‘buff spells’ found themselves in. If you’d memorized and learned to cast Stoneskin, it was totally possible to keep it running at all times, and generally a good idea to do so. But, the work involved wasn’t any fun.

The fact was, Stoneskin and friends were certainly good for a character – they were useful spells! They provided interesting strategic decisions, about skill investment, armour, spell slot use. But, in practice, the annoyance involved over the course of a long game – the choice between ‘good play’ and ‘avoiding tedium’ – made the game less fun. That’s why we cut them!

But Why Didn’t You Just…?

There’s quite a lot of suggestions I’ve seen for what we should have done instead of removing these spells. The simplest is probably to dramatically reduce the duration. If a buff doesn’t stay up for more than a dozen turns, it becomes impractical to keep it running constantly!

The trouble is that this only solves one part of the problem. You’re still left with the choice to cast your buffs at the start of every encounter, and many characters will be well-advised to do so – if you’re waiting for your enemy to close to melee, why not take a turn and a little MP to give yourself some extra defense? Well, because it’s a pain to do that at the start of nearly every encounter in a game with hundreds or thousands of fights… and so we’re back, more or less, where we started.

Another suggestion goes in the opposite direction. So players are keeping these buffs up all the time, or should – why not just automate it for them, and make the spell never expire once cast? That’s how Repel Missiles and Deflect Missiles work these days – they have a chance of expiring when they repel an incoming attack, but stay up forever otherwise.

The problem is that Dungeon Crawl’s spell system is fundamentally built around the assumption that spells are being cast in combat. In combat, the turn spent casting a spell matters – that’s a turn for enemies to act! The MP spent matters – that’s less MP to use for the rest of the fight! And the chance of failure matters – your turn is gone, your MP is gone, and you’re no better off than you were before!

Out of combat, none of those things matter. A turn doesn’t matter, MP doesn’t matter, failure doesn’t matter – you can just rest and try again. This is a problem for buffs in that you don’t need to worry about failure chance very much – get it below, say, 80% failure, and you can just recast until you succeed. What’s more, armour doesn’t matter – normally the choice of body armour is an important strategic choice for spellcasting (something heavy and protective, or something light and easy to cast in?), but for out-of-combat spells, you can just shuck your armour, cast the spell, and put the armour back on. This effectively means that Repel Missiles, for example, is a free, permanent buff for anyone who finds a spellbook containing it – no noticeable skill requirement, just a couple of spell slots. Not too much tactical annoyance, but no strategic decisions, either. It’s no good.

You can try to start patching this problem – what if taking off your body armour took off the spell! (Well, would that also apply to switching in a staff of wizardry, or a couple rings of wizardry?) What if the chance of the spell expiring when it reflected a projectile was based on your current spell failure chance, not spellpower? But when you have to keep suggesting a series of unintuitive mechanics that work like no other spell in the game, in an attempt to make an effect work within Crawl’s spell system, you have to wonder whether it makes sense for that effect to be a spell at all.

There are other variants on the ‘permanent buff’ approach – one suggests making buffs reduce your maximum MP when active, to make it less of a ‘no-brainer’ to keep the spell around all the time. But that doesn’t solve the spell failure issue, and has other undesirable effects – should armour buffs be more useful for melee warriors (who aren’t using much MP otherwise), rather than lightly armoured ‘casters’? Should these buffs become eventually almost ‘free’ later in the game, when MP pools become larger? There aren’t easy answers here.

What Does Work?

We haven’t removed all buffs quite yet. In fact, almost all of them are still around. Why?

Well, let’s look. Something like Swiftness is clearly a buff – you move faster! But the drawback when it wears off, slower movement for a time, means that it’s pretty silly to try to cast it all the time, or even at the start of every fight. It’s situational – useful, but situational. A fine spell to learn, but not one you feel like you should be casting every fight, or every 50 turns!

Other good buffs follow the same pattern. Portal Projectile teleports your shots directly to their target, letting you shoot past intervening enemies – useful, but each shot costs MP, and a miss is totally useless, whereas normal shots could hit another enemy behind your original target. Excruciating Wounds gives your weapon dramatically better killing power (against living enemies, and with investment in Necromancy…), but makes a considerable noise when cast. Invisibility makes you invisible (perhaps unsurprisingly), but the contamination means that you’re not gonna be able to turn invisible again for a while afterward, and haste would be dangerous – which can leave you in some pretty tight spots…

Adding ponderous to Ozocubu’s is an attempt to make it fit that same pattern – useful, but situational. This is an experiment! It may not work out – the drawback may be too weak, or too irrelevant (as for Cheibriados worshippers, perhaps) – or too strong in other cases! We’ll see how it works out.

A Dash Of Context

We don’t want to kill your playstyles, and we won’t. Statue Form has already been buffed to make up for the loss of Stoneskin; other forms will likely have some similar compensation in the near future. Transmuters and other light-armour characters will not stop being viable; trust us on this one.

Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup has a long and storied history of removals. Remember Alter Self, the spell that randomly mutated your character? (Repeat until desired mutations achieved…) Or Divinations, the spell-school entirely made up of out-of-combat spells? Or, perhaps, Mountain Dwarves?

Every removal’s led to some wailing and gnashing of teeth. This one’s far from the worst in that regard, and it certainly won’t be the last – but it is one of the removals with the most history behind it, and which the most thought and design effort has been applied to. It’s my hope that this post is helpful to those who were confused, informative to those who were curious, and, if perhaps not a perfect salve to those who were angry, at least reassuring with regards to the care which has been invested here.

Thanks for reading, and happy crawling!

Many thanks to dpeg for the help with this post.

Trunk updates, 18 February 2016

Hi, crawlers! Spring has sprung, so here’s some changes for you:

  • Wand changes:
    • Removed: Cold, Fire, Draining, Fireball, Frost, Invisibility, and Magic Darts.
    • New: Acid, which shoots a beam of corrosive acid. Roughly as powerful as Draining was.
    • New: Iceblast, which launches an explosive, partially physical explosion. Somewhat more powerful than Fireball was.
    • Monsters will no longer machine-gun their wands quite as often.
  • Other removed items: Xom’s chesspieces, rods of destruction & the swarm, and potions of poison.
  • Luckily, potions of degeneration are back! They now drain all stats by 1d3 points when consumed.
  • Even more luckily, stats now regenerate faster at low XLs.
  • Statue form, bat form & hydra form no longer have stat modifiers. Low-strength Vampires rejoice!
  • Statue form also now gives somewhat more AC.
  • Other spell changes:
    • Ozocubu’s Armour now gives ponderousness (+0.1 movement delay).
    • Passwall is now level 2 (previously, level 3).
    • Song of Slaying has been simplified; it now gives +slay with every kill, capping at +9 slay. (It was previously… complicated.)
    • Removed spells: Stoneskin, Condensation Shield, and Phase Shift.
  • God changes:
    • Ashenzari now lets you directly curse items, rather than needing to create scrolls of curse armour/weapon/jewellery. This ability still consumes a scroll of remove curse.
    • Okawaru’s abilities (Heroism & Finesse) are now considerably lower duration at low Invocations, but cost less piety and scale to higher max durations.
    • If you would regenerate MP under Pakellas while already full, you can now get a potion of magic instead.
    • Sif now gives miscast protection at ** and amnesia at ****. (Previously, the reverse was true.)
    • Yredelemnul’s Enslave Soul now works on angels and demons.
  • Swamp worms’ ambush predator functionality should now function correctly. Beware…
  • The Captain’s Cutlass now does flat bonus damage when it disarms an enemy.

Thanks to chequers for helping to compile this post.

For those who are interested, there’s also two new experimental gods being tested – Ukayaw, God of Ecstatic Dance, and Hepliaklqana, God of Ancestral Memory. They can be played on CBRO or, for the antipodeans, CPO.

Happy crawling!

Trunk updates, 23 January 2016

Hi, crawlers! Some fresh changes for the new year:

  • Items:
    • New unrand: the Warlock’s Mirror, a +3 buckler of reflection. Unlike other shields of reflection, it’s also capable of reflecting piercing beams, enchantments, and other effects. Watch as that neqoxec’s Malmutate bounces off and malmutates its caster!
    • New amulet type: amulets of harm, which increase damage done by and to the player by 25%.
    • New amulet type: amulets of magic regeneration, which increase player MP regeneration considerably after a short warmup period.
    • Weapon types no longer have hidden ‘strength weights’. Instead of dex and str both giving varying bonuses to damage, str now solely gives a bonus to-dam, and dex now solely gives a bonus to accuracy.
    • Potions of cure mutation are now dramatically (~50%) more common.
    • Potions of ambrosia now bypass clarity.
    • The amulet of corrosion resistance is now a ring.
    • Evocable +tele effects are gone. Rings of teleportation now only provide random teleportation.
    • Rings of invisibility have disappeared; they are no more.
    • Ditto, potions of degeneration. They will be missed by someone, somewhere, somehow.
  • Monsters:
    • Natasha no longer becomes weaker upon revival.
    • Swamp worms are now amphibious and generate submerged, emerging to attack the player and never resubmerging.
    • Deep elf high priests now have an Aura of Brilliance spell that affects all allies in their view, making them cast spells more frequently and with more spell power.
    • Demonspawn warmongers’ Sap Magic has been simplified: it now has three levels, rather than scaling continuously, and the spellcasting chance penalty now expires at the same time as the Sap effect itself.
    • Demonspawn corruptors’ Corrupt Body and wretched stars’ Corrupting Pulse now tend to cause multiple levels of a single bad mutation, rather than single levels of multiple bad mutations.
    • Doom hounds’ howls now summon a variety of nasty things, rather than other doom hounds.
    • Trapdoor spiders have crawled out of the game.
  • Spells:
    • Alistair’s Intoxication is now level 5 and gives Vertigo status instead of confusing the player or draining Int, and can sometimes affect rPois monsters.
    • The Infusion spell now ramps up to maximum power much more quickly, which should make it more useful past the first floor or two of the dungeon. (If still not too much longer than that.)
    • Spectral Weapon now bases the strength of the summoned weapon on spell power, instead of weapon skill.
    • Summoning tweaks: Shadow Creatures is now level 6, Monstrous Menagerie is now level 7.
  • Gozag’s Call Merchant shops no longer secretly vary in quality by the floor they’re called to.

Happy crawling!