Post Sunday, 6th January 2019, 19:10

YAVP: 7 rune MDFi^Zin, first successful trip to Pan
I'd recently re-added mountain dwarves, and fiddled with Zin a bit, so this seemed a good time to take them both for a spin. I ended up trying for 7 runes because my friend ceb's last win was 6 runes, beating my previous maximum of 5. I have died in Pan with 5 runes before, but this was my first successful trip to Pan.

The early game was fairly normal (albeit with a run-in with a FDFE ghost that could well have killed me, and a nasty first ogre on the exit from Purgy's sewer) until I found the Singing Sword on D:4. A vorpal +7 broadsword was a huge improvement on the starting +0 flail, but I didn't want to walk away from my +2 M&F aptitude. I started out just using it unskilled, but after a while admitted I was just going to stick with it (especially since I wanted to see if making it vorpal had made it viable) and would go Long Blades. For a while I had +9 EV from rings which let it riposte a fair bit, making just holding it pretty effective.

I gather trunk has buffed the Singing Sword's sonic damage, but even without that for most of the game I found it pretty effective. The sonic damage was regularly polishing off monsters on the edge of combat; of course, those monsters were probably there because of all the noise it was making. However, in one or two places it was a horrible liability and eventually I stopped using it.

I got Zin from the Temple on D:5, and was nearly polished off by an orc pack on D:6 and a centaur on my line of retreat, but was saved by a scroll of fear and a bit of luck. Thereafter I had no trouble for some time, apart from having to blink away from an orc warlord who double-tapped me with a vorpal bardiche on O:2.

I'd been collecting bolts all game with a view to using a hand crossbow when one turned up, and found a randart one on Swamp:2 (+5 velocity) - I'd eventually replace it with an ordinary +9 flaming one. This was well worth the investment of XP for Crossbows 10.

I went to a Desolation of Salt from V:3, which was the first place the Singing Sword was clearly a horrible liability. In that wide open space every monster on the level can make a beeline for you. I had to pop two Sanctuary-and-teleports to survive. However, I did get some decent items, including two rings I'd use on and off all game.

After Vaults I cleared Elf (getting Abyssed, but getting out without trouble) and finding a +6 randart plate with rCorr (which I'd later replace with a +2 plate with MR+ rCorr Dex+3; I was really hurting for MR most of the game). Then Crypt, with a refreshing lack of curse skulls.

Then I did Depths. Sojobo's escorts gave me some trouble, but nothing else did; and then I had the tricky third-rune question. I thought actually I could just try V:5 from the centre out, knowing that if things did go badly wrong and the stairs were locked I could Sanctuary-and-teleport out of there. This actually worked without too much difficulty; I got Abyssed by an alich, but it might have done that wherever I met it, and I escaped again without trouble, using a Sanctuary to clear me a path back to the stairs, having been a bit out of position beforehand. The high tension meant the Singing Sword happily chewed up nuisances like deep elf demonologists stooging around on the outskirts of the fight.

I knew I planned for more runes than 3, but decided to clear Z:1-4, having no fear of being malmutated and then having to put up with it. After that I went to the Vestibule and killed Geryon, it not having occurred to me I couldn't use the horn anyway. Then I set out after the Abyssal rune.

This took a while; about 15,000 turns. I saw the rune once just after entering, but was pulled away, and then didn't have another glimpse of it. I fear the recent change to Abyssal teleports means that you can easily end up spending ages on A:4 or A:5... where theoretically the rune spawns more often, but practically you don't see it because you are stuck fighting off an endless tide of nasties. A friend of mine gave up in disgust after 4,000 turns in the Abyss the same day and just went for a 3-rune win.

It became clear very quickly the Singing Sword was a horrible liability in the Abyss. I mananged to mug an angel for its eudemon blade and enchanted that up, using it and an ordinary broadsword of electrocution from there on.

When I finally did see the rune I was so fed up I ended up just blitzing it, taking risks to get to it rather than working towards it carefully and risking another shift of the Abyss. This could have backfired, but I did get to it, then took stairs down to escape the vast horde, and fortunately found an exit almost immediately on arrival in A:5.

The only upside to this tedious experience was the giant lump of XP that came with it; I maxed Fighting, Armour, Invocations, and Shields.

Next was Slime. I cleared Slime since I didn't care about shining eyes. TRJ itself was not too bad; I brought the Singing Sword out of retirement, hastemighted, and just hacked away. A reasonable proportion of Slime stuff is Recite-able, and once again I had the comforting thought that if it did go wrong, Sanctuary would give me time to teleport away. I got lucky with the loot, finding manuals of Long Blades and Summonings. I was pretty sure I could cash the manual of Summonings and get something useful online, and indeed I did, becoming able to cast Aura of Abjuration with a ring of wizardry.

Now I was into less familiar territory; I've been to Pan once on a vine stalker, but over 2 years ago in 0.18. I wanted to leave some space to bring out loot, especially with the two manuals in inventory, so I thought I'd probably only need the eudemon blade; of course, the very first Pan level I got was holy Pan, with literally nothing that cared about Recite or holy wrath. I had to hastemight down the seraph, but the rest was mostly OK, although autoexplore seemed to like nothing better than running halfway across the level and back, and the side room full of daevas was troublesome.

I came out to drop off some goodies and headed back in; on the second trip I had to cycle through about a dozen Pan levels to find Mnoleg. This was a stroke of luck since of the 4 named Pan lords, I'm pretty sure Mnoleg is the easiest for a Zinnie to overcome. Aura of Abjuration was usable by now, so I could abjure away the summons and just flatten him.

Now I had my 7 runes, but just had to make it out of Pan. I had to traipse through a few more Pan levels before arriving at Cerebov's. I didn't really fancy fighting Cerebov, rF+++ or no, and didn't need an 8th rune, so I magic mapped; one of the exits was via the Abyss, and I decided to gamble on that. As it happened I ended up on A:1 with an exit nearby.

Finally, to Z:5. This had half a dozen OOFs and the usual selection of other bastards, but it only got hairy in one place in the lungs where an Ice Fiend turned up to join an OOF and an alich. I read a scroll of summoning here to get some allies, and got a moth of wrath and a golden dragon amongst others; the moth berserked the dragon and that polished off everything else in short order. (I did get Abyssed by a Zot trap, but I was used to that by now...)

Once I grabbed the Orb, a panlord turned up almost right away, but I just Recited to it and beat it flat; the same with the other panlord that turned up in the orb vault. I saw two more on the way up through D, but could avoid them both.
Ascension reports with too many words since 2016.

For this message the author damerell has received thanks: