Post Monday, 22nd July 2019, 19:42

YAVP: 5-rune VpSk of Kiku, first Tomb rune retrieval
2726396 damerell the Acrobat (level 27, 227/227 HPs)
             Began as a Vampire Skald on July 20, 2019.
             Was the Champion of Kikubaaqudgha.
             Escaped with the Orb
             ... and 5 runes on July 22, 2019!
             The game lasted 16:31:01 (95147 turns).

damerell the Acrobat (Vampire Skald)               Turns: 95147, Time: 16:31:02

Health: 227/227    AC: 32    Str: 23    XL:     27
Magic:  45/45 (53) EV: 33    Int: 33    God:    Kikubaaqudgha [******]
Gold:   4167       SH: 22    Dex: 25    Spells: 2/60 levels left

rFire    + + .     SeeInvis +   b - +7 scimitar {freeze, MR+ MP+9}
rCold    + . .     Gourm    .   J - +5 shield {AC+3}
rNeg     + + .     Faith    .   v - +6 scale mail of the Poles {rC+ Int+2 Slay+3
rPois    .         Spirit   .   N - +4 helmet of the Harp {MR+ Dex+7}
rElec    +         Reflect  .   q - +2 cloak of the Thief {+Fog Slay-2 SInv Stlt
rCorr    .         Harm     .   k - +1 pair of gloves of Fallacy {Str+4}
MR       ++++.     Clarity  +   R - +2 pair of boots
Stlth    ++........             d - amulet of the Messenger {RegenMP +Inv rF+ In
HPRegen  1.47/turn              D - ring of Zaff {rElec rN+ Int+6 Stlth+}
MPRegen  0.58/turn              A - ring of Tizar {rF+ Str+3 Dex+4}

I had 3 aims that caused me to play vampire skalds.

One was to play another skald to continue to test the Stoat Soup permabuff implementation, and perhaps to add some more as I found appropriate spells (which I did; Death Channel and Excruciating Wounds, and also Ring of Flames although I wasn't using it).

One was to play at least some 4-state vampires to decide if we're going to want to take vanilla's 2-state vampire implementation.

The third was that I know that Gooncrawl reverts out the anti-stairdancing change to Tomb that replaces the stairs with one-way hatches. We've been considering that, but it seemed both that I should have some actual experience with the new Tomb and to be able to say that I can legitimately beat the one-way hatch version so I'm not just changing it because I can't beat it.

(I know that the 0.23 trap changes make new Tomb still more ghastly, but that's another kettle of fish.)

Like a few of my wins, this one relied on my favourite level 9 spell, Dragon's Call. Very few things in the game can survive being covered in dragons - as far as I can tell, nothing in an ordinary 3-rune game can - and unlike other level 9 spells, you cast it once and then it automatically turns MP into murder while you get on with whatever else you wanted to do. However, here I could only cast it practically with brilliance, so had to carefully ration my uses of it.

It took me 19 VpSk to get one home. The first started off wonderfully before dying of hubris on V:5. Irritatingly, in that game Kiku served up exactly the selection of spells I wanted, giving me high expectations, but was much less helpful in the game I actually won.

I find that when I get runes on the first try at a combo and think I might be going to win it first time, then die, the next few attempts are going to be embarrassing; and sure enough, there followed 6 humiliating splats (Sigmund, "why did you go in the volcano? Why did you not immediately leave when you saw the monsters?", orc wizard, orc priest, "how many killer bees?", and Natasha.)

The next attempt cleared the S-runes and Vaults, cleared Zot 1-4 for XP, and died coming up from Tomb:3, swarmed by bennu. I'd been trying an approach where I cast Dragon's Call and Darkness, swapped away from wizardry, descended, blinked towards the up hatch, and tried to chew up as much stuff as I could before retreating. This wasn't really working because the entire area between entry point and up hatches was filling up with unpleasantness; enough mummies both to let them abjure away my dragons and to make it very perilous, with no spot on the journey where I could chew up some enemies with relative impunity. I wasn't convinced by the approach - I was out of blinks and hadn't noticeably dented the crowd - but also it's clear I made mistakes and could have approached it more sensibly. This was maddening not least because I'd found the Thermic Engine and surmised (correctly) I was not going to get as good a long blade for a second attempt.

Another round of humiliating splats followed, including one where an involuntary Abyss descent-on-teleport landed me in the rune vault, which would have been marvellous if there weren't approximately a million bastards in there with me.

The winning game started fairly routinely, albeit with the disappointment of no Kiku in the Temple, until I found a randart +3 scale with MR+ on D:6. I used this for a while (it gave much better defences and vaguely tolerable spell success), and it made me consider wearing medium armour more seriously than I otherwise would have done. I might not otherwise have finished the game casting a level 9 spell in ER 10 armour.

On D:7 I found a +4 helmet with MR+ Dex+7, a lucky find I'd use all game, and on D:8 I found a +0 randart long sword of slicing, a definite improvement on the starting falchion. I finally found Kiku on D:9 - not only on the last possible dungeon level, but in almost the last corner I explored. I wasn't happy about this; in previous games I'd been blatting most Lair nuisances with Agony and Excruciating Wounds and I knew I'd be lucky to see either of those by the end of the Lair.

Lair was also on D:9 and I descended to find the upstairs in range of a sleeping oklob plant and Nergalle. I managed to sneak out of LOS without alerting them, but now I knew I couldn't practically retreat from Lair:1, another unwelcome development.

Kiku spat up the first book on Lair:2: Pain, Corpse Rot, and Sublimation of Blood. I didn't much want any of these and never took them, although I guess Sublimation of Blood would have been handy at times. I could really have used Animate Skeleton and Vampiric Draining.

Lair:3 had the "elephants' graveyard" vault, something that became clear as I fought off approximately a million elephants then desperately berserked down one dire elephant. I still had no very effective way to deal with hydras and as such was delighted when hilarita's ghost turned up to help out with the first hydra of the game.

On Lair:5 Kiku dispensed the second book. No Animate Dead (I never found Animate Dead, rendering Recieve Corpses useful for no more than blood top-ups), no Agony, no Death Channel. However, I did get Excruciating Wounds which turned my +0 scimitar into a very effective weapon, BVC which was useful when I remembered to use it (I don't know about you, but I have difficulty remembering to incorporate new utility spells into my routine), and Dispel Undead which did sterling work later on liches, curse skulls, and a huge assortment of mummies.

I found a volcano on Lair:6 which I entered with a degree of trepidation, but which turned out to be pretty easy.

Lair:6 also had, in three of its corners:

14 assorted nasties (3 basilisks, manticore, hell hound, 2 hippogriffs, 4 wyverns, and 3 rime drakes) all standing together in one huge block, so that when I cam around the corner I spotted them all at once. This was the point where I said "Go home, Lair:6, you are drunk".

A swampy area with rime drakes, swamp dragons, komodo dragons, and a sodding fire dragon in the centre.

A third area with a load of torpor snails and hornets, a nasty combo especially without rPois.

It also had a runed door. I opened the runed door on the basis that it could hardly be worse than that little lot; what it had behind it was one fire dragon all alone, which was a bit of an anticlimax given that I could just close the door in the dragon's face and swap in some rF armour from the volcano.

I left the lair, thwomping the oklob and Nergalle en route without trouble, and worked down the dungeon to go in an ice cave on D:11 which turned out to have Ozo's Armour in it, a lucky find since by now I'd replaced the scale mail with +2 leather of rF. I had a bit of trouble with the ice statues but cleared it OK.

I found Orc on D:11 and went straight in; O:2 had a labyrinth, which I went in, a fortuitous decison since I found Animate Skeleton and Death Channel from a book in the loot. Unfortunately, because I'm an idiot, I didn't memorise Death Channel so had to do the S branches without it, even though it would have been astonishingly useful.

I cleared Orc without too much difficulty (getting a labyrinth on O:2 which I went in) and found a manual of Necromancy in one of the shops, a very fortunate find. I also bought a brand weapon and rebranded my scimitar to electrocution, giving me an option for pain-resistant enemies; and bought a book with Aura of Abjuration, which I wanted anyway when I could find the slots for it, and would let me start training up Summonings for Haunt and Dragon's Call.

I cleared D:12 but things were looking a bit dubious so I went to Snake. I met Nikola on Snake:1, but a potion of resistance let me polish him off, getting a +1 pair of gloves with Str+4, another item I'd use all game, and a +1 cloak of poison resistance. Thanks, Nikola. Snake:1 also had Roxanne, who I left well alone for now.

On Snake:2 I found a +6 scale mail with rC+, Int+2, Slay+3. I'd seen a ring of fire with rPois Str+6 in a shop on D:11, which I'd liked the look of but had no way to cover the rC vulnerability (except +0 leather of cold resistance, which wasn't great); now I could use these two together, have acceptable spell failure chances, and have defences comparable to leather + Ozo's without having to cast Ozo's or be ponderous. I didn't actually expect to use it all game, expecting something better would turn up, but as it turned out I did, eventually amnesia-ing Ozo's Armour.

I didn't even consider it at the time, but I could have enchanted up ice dragon scales later; I'd have enjoyed 7 more AC, but the loss of the Int and the extra ER would have taken Dragon's Call (with brilliance) from 4% yellow failure to 10% red failure, so it's not really clear I made a mistake there.

Snake wasn't too much trouble, the occasional run-in with sharpshooters aside; I learned BVC at the bottom of Snake, which I'd use from time to time when I remembered it existed.

Swamp was OK - I'd picked up a scimitar of flaming on Snake:2 so could dispatch hydras easily - apart from a truly horrible rune vault ("swamp_pestilence") with unavoidable miasma clouds and nasties up to and including a bone dragon. I teleported out at 109/140 HP, since it was clear I wasn't going to stay at 109 HP if I hung about, and let everyone wander out of it to kill them in more convenient terrain.

After Swamp I took the Necronomicon from Kiku. This was a mistake, because there was no immediate prospect of using Haunt or Infestation and I might just find a Necronomicon around the next corner (and I did); but it was a lucky mistake because I looked at the memorisation screen and said "bloody hell, since when do I have Death Channel?" and memorised that.

D:14 had a ring with {rF+ Str+3 Dex+4} which I'd use almost all game; D:15 had a randart scimitar of freezing with MR+ and MP+9, which was a bit of a puzzler since I had no idea if it was better or worse than +3 pain with a high Necromancy skill. I decided to use it so I could recover the MP from Excruciating Wounds, leaving me more MP for Infusion.

However, it really came into its own in the late game, when I walked around with it wielded. It was fine for trivial encounters; for less trivial ones I could swap to my demon blade, but for really serious fights I could first cast Dragon's Call and then swap to the demon blade, thus starting the fight with 9 extra MP to turn into dragons.

I polished off Roxanne with a silence and went to Elf, which I often do before Vaults. I got a wizlab on Elf:1, the Halls of the Hellbinder; I'm never very happy when I get a wizlab on the first possible level, because I'm relatively weak, but I went in. The reception committee proved a bit problematic, but the actual Hellbinder I flattened without difficulty with haste/agility/might. This worked out nicely because the loot included a book with Agony, which I had been really feeling the need of.

I cleared the rest of Elf without too much trouble, finding Morg which I'd keep around as part of a "spellcasting kit", a set of items to let me squeeze out Dragon's Call. (In the end, I used little of it - the wizardry jewellery was no better for spell failure in armour than the jewellery with Str+ which I wanted anyway, and I much preferred having a MP+9 weapon when casting...)

I worked down the Vaults, going to Crypt:1 from V:2 and meeting a truly huge welcoming committee which I teleported away from and then had to work back to the stairs. However, by now I had Aura of Abjuration at 2% failure which combined with Dispel Undead and Kiku's torment protection meant I wasn't too worried about curse skulls and other nuisances.

I worked down to V:4, buying Blink from a shop, and then killing Margery, who had a demon blade of flaming. I'd enchant this up and use it, with or without Excruciating Wounds, as my main weapon. Before Zot I rebranded it to freezing; I had a huge supply of brand weapons and wanted something that OOFs don't resist completely.

I cleared out the rest of Crypt, none of which was bad compared to the welcoming committee on C:1. I got the C:3 loot room with ancient liches behind grates, but I recognise a trap when I see one, so dug the grates out and tackled them 2 at a time; the loot included a ring with {rElec rN+ Int+6 Stlth+} which would eventually supplant the ring of fire with Str+6 for more even resistances & better dragon-summoning.

To the Depths. Killed the Enchantress; the faerie dragon scales were {rElec rF- rCorr Str+7 Slay+2}, an initially tempting item I'd never use. I guess if I'd felt the need for a crack at Slime they could have come in handy.

Mennas turned up on U:3... behind me, with a wizard and 2 ice devils in front of me. At the time I had 3/4 HP, but also 9 assorted undead allies. I was in two minds about whether I should teleport immediately and tackle him later with full HP, or try and rush him while I had a decent cloud of spectral things out. I went for the second option; he immediately mass confused and chewed up the undead at a phenomenal rate, but I killed the wizard getting another spectral thing and a potential line of retreat, then dropped a BVC on him. He silenced, but my allies and I managed to bring him down.

On U:3 I'd also find an amulet with {RegenMP +Inv rF+ Int+3} which I'd use all game, and the cloak of the Thief. Initially I made the (bad) decision not to use it because I didn't want the slaying malus and had plenty of scrolls of fog, but it was invaluable in Tomb; if I'd made the right decision here I could have had the Evocations ready rather than had to train it in a hurry in Tomb, and saved more of the scrolls for situations where I absolutely had to have fog right away without making a failure check, or wanted more fog with a cloud from the cloak already active.

Next was V:5. I had rF+++ so immolation-cleared the welcoming committee, then hatched down and cleared it without trouble. Alas, the loot had little of use besides some consumables, but since I'd used basically no consumables in clearing it, this was a net gain.

I bought some consumables and went to the Abyss; I didn't feel ready to tackle Tomb yet, and might as well have a fourth rune. I got Deterioration 1 off a nexoqec but got the rune itself on A:4 without too much trouble, but then got pinned down and got a lot of Contam off an apocalypse crab; this gave me Str-2, which didn't help spellcasting.

I should have lived with this - Deterioration 1 is really not that bad - but I rolled once giving clarity (hooray!) and Wild Magic 1. The latter was a bit unfortunate in that my gameplan was to squeeze out a level 9 spell, but I obviously wasn't going to give up clarity. I returned to my spellcasting kit to find I could use Dragon's Call at 4% failure with a brilliance, swapping only the Str+6 ring for Int+6.

(It would be nice if there was a way to see hypothetical spell failure chances with brilliance. I had to resort to wizmode testing with a duplicate of the character.)

To the Tomb! The log shows mostly only a boring series of "noticed a greater mummy, killed a greater mummy" but the reality was, unsurprisingly, much more alarming.

With only 4 blinks, I decided to see if I could clear the Tomb:2 welcoming committee without an immediate blink towards the up hatch, a terrible decision that could have killed me and did cost me 9 of my 14 heal wounds (and one of those 4 blinks), leaving me wondering if I should give up on the Tomb for now (assuming, of course, I could get to a position where I could get back to the Crypt alive.)

I ended up blinking towards what I hoped was safety (it wasn't), teleporting, landing in the area with the downstairs to Tomb:3, and clearing that after an only moderately desperate struggle. I went upstairs, then back to Tomb:2 to find the entrance area still full of nasties; I had thought the dragons has chewed more of them up.

I teleported soon after that, landing about 5 spaces from the hatch, fighting a defensive action there in the hope of clearing enough space to get to the hatch, then teleporting again (HP 34/214), landing in the side rooms with the hatch to the separate corridor on Tomb:1.

From there I could nibble away at the welcoming committee, with plenty of space to retreat and fight without attracting more attention, and cleared that area; Iwent up to the separate corridor on Tomb:1. As you're probably aware, that contains umpteen greater mummies, but the terrain let me tackle them one or two at a time, dropping a Haunt on anyone who wasn't in range for Dispel Undead and simply abjuring away their summons.

To Tomb:3. Fortunately, I got the tomb_3_rune_grunt_layered layout, which offers a decent selection of winding corridors to hide in, if you can get to them. I teleported soon after arrival, intending to teleport repeatedly until I found a defensible spot. I landed on the northeast corner of the level (the arrival spot was in the south, the rune vault in the north); I chewed some stuff up here but teleported at HP 135/219 because it was clear nasties were arriving faster than I could kill them.

I landed in the outskirts of the rune structure, still fast and mighty and summoning dragons. There was a fair quantity of unpleasantness there, but I used up my remaining scrolls of summoning and managed to start working my way towards the rune. There was an awkward moment when I came around the penultimate corner to find 2 more greater mummies, with more nasties on my tail; I got down to 60/219, but popped some fog and was able to tackle them one at a time, with Dragon's Call cycling in time to help polish the second of them and the other monsters off.

I had the rune. I was torn between teleporting out and hoping to land within blinking distance of the hatches, or trying to clear my way out. I figured I could always teleport later, so started to clear; a lucky decision since the mummies had kindly left 2 potions of heal wounds lying around nearby. Somewhere in here I was paralysed by a lich for 5 turns, and thought I'd had it, but survived; and there were still a lot of mummies hanging about near the northeast corner of the level, but once I'd dealt with them, things seemed to be stable enough to start autoexploring, and indeed I could then clear the rest of the level without trouble.

I realised at this point, having trained 10 Evocations for the cloak of the Thief, I should buy up all the misc evocables before Zot; I used wands of acid pretty freely either on things immune to both Agony and Dispel Undead, or just as a decent ranged attack that used no MP.

Zot:1-4 was not totally routine, with draconian packs giving me trouble until the first few kills let Death Channel turn the tide. Zot:5, however, was fine; there was a permanent teleport trap on the route into one of the lungs, so I bought an amulet with -Tele from a shop knowing I could then enter through that lung and leave through it scraping off any pursuit.

I saw three OOFs in the lung, and covered them all in dragons; the first two went down without even doing me any damage. The third gave me Deterioration 1, which I didn't really care about. A panlord turned up on Zot:5 on the way out and inconveniently stood on the escape hatch I planned to take, so I covered them in dragons; after that the orbrun was almost disappointingly free of excitement.
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