You mumbles some strange words. You chill the trunk update to absolute zero! The trunk update is frozen into a solid block of ice!

Greetings fellow crawlers, it’s time for another Trunk Update. The 0.25 development cycle is slowly winding to a close, but we have some changes for you to try out, with more to come! Expect a release and tournament in the next month or two, barring any unforeseen delays. As always, we’ll make an announcement once we have a date in mind. This update features a couple larger changes we’ll give some extra detail about, along with some smaller updates described further below.

First up is the new L9 Ice spell Absolute Zero, which replaces the L9 Ice/Conj Glaciate spell. Level 9 spells are tricky to get right since they cost so much XP, yet we want to give players a reason to learn them. We also want these spells to be both distinct from the other L9 spells and relevant to their school; the latter is especially a focus with our spell changes this version. Glaciate fits reasonably into the Ice theme we’ve established, being a “diffuse” AOE spell, but it has too many similarities with Fire Storm yet functions like a worse version of that spell! Where Fire Storm is one of the best ways to kill monsters safely, Glaciate requires close proximity to be effective, and is far less good at blocking monster movement and line-of-fire.

Instead of reworking Glaciate and likely ending up with something similar to Fire Storm, so we went for more distinctiveness with Absolute Zero. This spell kills the closest target, leaving behind an ice block. It chooses randomly among the closest monsters if there’s a tie by distance. This kill is unconditional, so it works on everything from orbs of fire to Cerebov! The positional aspect comes getting the right monsters close enough when multiple monsters are involved, which is usually the case for dangerous fights late in the game. Absolute Zero might feel too cheesy at its max range, which scales with spellpower up to 7. We may reduce the range to a fixed lower value of, say, 5, and have noise scale down with spellpower instead. The latter aspect was in fact part of hellmonk’s original implementation of this spell. Thanks to him for that patch as well as other Discord regulars for discussing the idea.

Next we have a round of item removals; that’s right, the dreaded r-word! On the chopping block are: lamp of fire, sack of spiders, fan of gales, crystal ball of energy, and staff of power. See the links for kate’s brief description of why each item was removed. The crystal ball and staff of power removals won’t surprise many long time crawl players. The former is notoriously useless in most situations and the latter is an annoying swap with an effect duplicated by other equipment. As an aside, we’d like all magical staves to have a good melee effect; see below regarding staves of poison and Olgreb, and look out for similar changes (or removals!) in the future.

Regarding the other removed items, we want the set of evocables be relevant reasonably often, as distinct as possible, and not too numerous. The fan of gales was an escape item you’d use very infrequently, and this game already provides so many escape consumables, spells, abilities, and god powers. The lamp was a strong item, yet its design was underwhelming, as kate says. Its notorious targeter was awful to use in open spaces, and while it was very good in corridors, we already have an evocable that makes clouds and which is good in both open and closed areas. The sack was a very strong item, like all summoning consumables, but the summons it created aren’t memorable, at least not until getting ghost moths at high evocations. We have a bunch of other consumable items that create interesting summons and that everyone has to carry around as things are. The sack’s net effect might show up on some future item or ability, but not attached to summons.

These removals make the remaining evocables feel more distinct, free up a lot of item slots, and reduce the cognitive load in a game with such a large number of items. Speaking of loadstones, if you’ve been using the new tin of tremorstones and found it underwhelming, have no fear. We’ll be taking a look at these and seeing how they can be improved before release. Now, for the rest of the changes:

  • Phial of floods now applies a silencing “waterlogged” debuff to all monsters in the flooded area and no longer summons water elementals. So you can still get those cool silencing debuff on monsters, just without so much accompanying summoning cheese.
  • D:1 level spawns can no longer generate within LOS distance of the player’s starting position. A surprising nerf to tiny arrival vaults, to be sure, but a welcome one.
  • Potions of Brilliance now only provide a stronger universal spell enhancer and remove spell hunger. They no longer provide an Int bonus nor wizardry.
  • Staves of poison now do resistable poison damage on hit like other staves instead of just having a chance to poison.
  • The Staff of Olgreb now has a chance to deal poison-arrow flavored damage on hit, based on evocations skill. It no longer has an additional chance to cast Venom Bolt on top of casting OTR when evoked. Once again, I await kills from the Gauntlet minotaur wielding this.
  • Potions of Might no longer provide a bonus to strength. Don’t worry, the 1d10 bonus damage remains, and that’s the really good part.
  • The Dragonskin Cloak now provides rCorr instead of sticky flame resistance. Waiting for the complaints to roll in from the die-hard rSticky fans.
  • The -Tele property no longer appears on artefact weapons and jewellery. Sorry, no more cheesing those Zot traps with your -Tele stick!
  • Ziggurats now have a level set featuring many player ghosts. Zig ghosts are back! Accompanying them are a variety of undead assistants. This set replaces the “draining” monster set, since that idea is well covered by this new set and the existing ones.
  • Frozen Ramparts has its radius of effect reduced to 2 and its damage was slightly reduced. Even with the removal of the monster slow movement debuff, I found this spell to be too strong, doing lots of damage over huge areas in many situations. With these nerfs, Ramparts feels like it has damage more appropriate to a level 3 spell.
  • Many arrival vaults have been reworked to allow better player tactics. After all, tactics are important, or so the wiki guides say.
  • All Evocable items can no longer be used by the player while confused. Target fuzzing, be gone!
  • Trog now hates use of all magical staves and pain weapons. On the upside, Troglodytes won’t get offered these by scrolls of acquirement!
  • Nemelex abilities can no longer be used while silenced. This was a loophole from when decks used to be items. Remember those long gone days?
  • Call Imp no longer bases the type of imp summoned on spellpower. Don’t worry, this spell is still really good, crimson imps included!
  • The WebTiles server has seen a major overhaul and now supports python 3 as well as Tornado 5+. Thanks to advil, aidanh, and chequers for all their work on this development and testing. More WebTiles updates will be rolled out after testing, with work to come from aidanh on making it easier for us to upgrade server chroots. That way we can have a modern development toolchain on every server.

Play-testing trunk is always appreciated, especially as the release gets closer. Please report any bugs you find on mantis or on the github issues page. I myself had great fun ascending a merfolk ice elementalist to experience all the changes to ice magic; looking forward to trying a fire elementalist or venom mage next. Look out for more trunk changes and likely another Trunk Updates before next release. So until next time, Happy Crawling!