Player Ghosts' Dungeon (actually Design suggestion)


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Post Friday, 26th August 2016, 14:43

Player Ghosts' Dungeon (actually Design suggestion)

I've found player ghosts some of the most shocking encounters in the game, and I recall seeing others posting much the same. They have the capacity to add lots of surprises, while not being exceedingly common. I don't know a lot about how many ghosts are in circulation generally now or whether players in the regular game are using worse tactics against them than against Uniques, but here is an idea:

Alternative version of Crawl.

1. All Uniques are replaced by Player Ghosts. Where a Unique would normally spawn, you get a player ghost instead. One or two other player ghosts could still spawn per level (and those others would follow the normal version rules for ghosts, except see #4). Each ghost will only spawn once per game (assuming ghost population is sufficient), except for the ghost that replaces Boris which may respawn just as Boris does (with a *of Boris etc. appended to that ghost's name). Ghosts remain eligible for appearance in this version for 60 (?) days from the date of player character death. They may be each be selected for use in games up to say, oh five (?? or pick a number) kills of player characters -- something a little more persistent than the current three kills in normal.

2. Where a player ghost replaces a unique, this ghost will be placed on a level of the dungeon that roughly scales with the character's accumulated XP at time of death. It doesn't matter what level they died on. Ghosts that replace uniques will also be controlled somewhat for apparent power: Those above the level of lair will have made 1 kill, those from the level of Lair to D15 and in Lair branches will have made 2 kills, and those in Vaults, Depths, Zot, and Pan will have made 3 kills in the regular game. There can be additional weighting to increase the chance for deeper ghosts to carry either a white weapon or increasingly high level offensive spells. Even weights for certain dramatic advantages (extremely high evasion, high speed attack, extreme training of some ability?) is technically possible if one wished to tune this more.

3. Since items are removed by loss of uniques such as Donald, Erica, Pixel etc., a ghost replacing a unique will frequently drop either an item or a rather small stack of consumables from its inventory when destroyed. This can be weighted to increase the chance of higher bonus weapons, relics, etc. deeper in the dungeon. If this sounds like a big potential bonus, bear in mind that every unique will be replaced with a ghost which may have all sorts of surprises.

4. There must be some balancing to deal with weapons of holy wrath and The Shining One. I suggest giving those ghosts with demon weapons of any kind, a buff which is the opposite of holy wrath. Against followers of TSO or characters carrying holy weapons, these ghosts gain "Demonic Wrath" damage bonus. This effective brand would also be applied to any standard player ghosts in the game who happen to bear demon weapons. Alternatively, TSO could be removed from this version and weapons of holy wrath removed or made exceedingly rare.

5. Some uniques have an entourage: Think, Robin's patrol of goblins and hobgoblins, or Nergalle's spectral orcs. Such entourages will be replaced by weaker player ghosts. The entourage ghosts will have fewer kills in regular game than their leader, and will have severly limited (if any) spell levels and weapon enchantments. They may also have physical abilities nerfed by a level or two of Drain equivalent. But who knows what else they'll still show up with. (I'm trying to think of how to replace Kirke's hogs or Pixel's slaves with some amusing after effect here, but drawing a blank so far...)

6. Ghosts replacing uniques may have some added resistance to Beogh's enslavement (which presumably could affect them at high power), and to Dispel/Control Undead.

7. All ghosts still cannot use stairs. (Is this too much? Should those replacing uniques get to use stairs too? I still feel like simply adding several player-developed abilities makes ghosts potentially much more startling than some of the uniques, already.)

It's a touch of Pan in the main dungeon: Sometimes a flop but often quite a whopper, too.
Last edited by stoneychips on Friday, 26th August 2016, 14:59, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Friday, 26th August 2016, 14:57

Re: Player Ghosts' Dungeon

Oh pffft, I meant to post this in Design / suggestions. Please move. (Would this leave a messy space if I copied and then deleted everything here?)

Sorry, I was in the right place until my connection got disrupted and I got mixed up coming back.
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Post Friday, 26th August 2016, 15:36

Re: Player Ghosts' Dungeon (actually Design suggestion)

What do you hope to achieve by this?

There are some pretty glaring problems with ghosts as they currently exist (like crazy spells, draconian breath weapons, extremely high defences, resistances, silly names, spoilery, etc.).

Many ghosts are already best avoided and avoiding potentially multiple enemies on every level gets quite tedious.

Adding more ghosts without addressing any of those problems would be a huge step in the wrong direction from my perspective. I wouldn't play that version.

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Post Friday, 26th August 2016, 15:53

Re: Player Ghosts' Dungeon (actually Design suggestion)

1. Are you proposing a new game mode (like sprint?) Or like a fork of crawl or something?
2. What effect would killing a ghost in ghost crawl have on regular crawl (if any)
3. Ghosts are subject to a large number of design flaws (player stats don't scale to monsters well, some abilities are way more or way less powerful for a monster than for the player, given that the two have very different goals, player ghosts are spoilery, you can use out of game resources to look up hidden information about them) and are very often not interesting to fight, and optimally avoided.
4. One of the things that makes uniques... unique is that they have special mechanics that apply only to them, ghosts, for all their randomized stats don't have any special mechanics that apply just to them, doesn't this make for a less interesting game?
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Post Saturday, 27th August 2016, 00:39

Re: Player Ghosts' Dungeon (actually Design suggestion)

stoneychips wrote:Oh pffft, I meant to post this in Design / suggestions. Please move. (Would this leave a messy space if I copied and then deleted everything here?)

Sorry, I was in the right place until my connection got disrupted and I got mixed up coming back.


You were in the wrong place before your connection got disrupted, too, but don't worry. This thread is in the right place now. ;)
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Post Sunday, 28th August 2016, 16:59

Re: Player Ghosts' Dungeon (actually Design suggestion)

Siegurt wrote:1. Are you proposing a new game mode (like sprint?) Or like a fork of crawl or something?

I suppose it's a fork? I'm not really that familiar with the term. Sprint seems much more different to me.

2. What effect would killing a ghost in ghost crawl have on regular crawl (if any)

I didn't imagine it would have any effect on play in regular Crawl.
In terms of just data management, there would need to be a way to keep track of the ghosts as long as needed in the Ghost version. Which might mean migrating a copy of the data somewhere for longer keeping, I suppose.

3. Ghosts are subject to a large number of design flaws (player stats don't scale to monsters well, some abilities are way more or way less powerful for a monster than for the player, given that the two have very different goals, player ghosts are spoilery, you can use out of game resources to look up hidden information about them) and are very often not interesting to fight, and optimally avoided.

Fair enough.
Another idea I had today which might mitigate the "looking up" issue at least, would be adding a random change or two to each appearance of ghost in the Uniques' place. It might be just a different resistance, but it might also be a different main weapon. Still quite random, I admit but the details could be discussed. This initially occurred to me more because it might also become too predictable for multiple players to be looking forward to meeting potentially the same ghosts on roughly the same levels, and exchanging info about how to beat them... (You know, much like anyone could with every other monster in the Wiki now when they feel like it. But it sounds like you don't like that? I dunno. Not trying to be super snarky, just trying to reason that part out.)

I guess it depends what one finds interesting. I find the ghosts sometimes harder than many of the uniques. I also find it more interesting in the sense that you don't know quite what you're going to get. Once you've seen many of the uniques a couple times, possibly peeked at their Wiki reads for weaknesses as well, and started to eliminate who you've already met... What makes them more interesting to you? I dunno. I suppose Uniques could have missile weapons where ghosts would only have spells. Ghosts would be more regularly vulnerable to holy wrath, if it remained around. But they could also deploy a lot of other threats and attributes that uniques don't. Threatening, possibly. Boring? I'm not sure I get that part yet. Are uniques also coded with some dramatically particular AI too? Are ghosts made to be "dumb," whereas I seem to recall plenty of claims that people are worried about meeting them?

Couldn't the same argument be made that Uniques are often simply better avoided? People certainly make this argument about Mara, and sometimes about early Sigmund, Mennas (sp?)...
Would it make this better for you if say, regular player ghosts were removed, and the only function of player ghosts was to replace Uniques (perhaps also excluding Pan and Hells)?

I think I've heard the same argument about abilities as well, particularly spells, being different for monsters other than ghosts. I don't know enough about all the details to make much judgment on it here, though.


4. One of the things that makes uniques... unique is that they have special mechanics that apply only to them, ghosts, for all their randomized stats don't have any special mechanics that apply just to them, doesn't this make for a less interesting game?

I can understand this partly. Perhaps it's going too far to make the ghosts replace all the uniques? I wasn't really thinking much about Pan, for example, as I hardly go there. Replacing all the pan lords (are they normally all considered Uniques??) would probably toss up the point of Pan too much. You'd lose the biggest boss challenges way deep in the game, if they were affected. I'm not sure if replacing some of the random Pan lords would be a bad thing, though. I don't know really when it gets so far into extended. On the other hand back in the main Dungeon/Lair branches, after so many run-ins with Sigmund, Grinder, Sonia, etc. each in a narrow floor range almost every time, I'd rather like to see something different each game, even if it's occasionally tougher.

I think it's arguable that player characters tend to at least aim to be either as specialized, or sometimes better rounded than many uniques. While they may not have that one nifty ability some unique had, they are reasonably likely to be very well trained in some respect or to have some awesome defenses against something. They might also have a really surprising little collection of spells. Often players have their individual blind spots (or just not enough experience for something at a given stage of character development), and granted things may not scale/convert to play out as PCs were aiming to, but they are often very challenging to deal with and some other things play out more bothersome than a player character often deployed them for (Teleport Other comes to mind).

I hadn't thought much about Extended and losing the uniques may not work well there. However, looking at this and some of the other responses I feel like there's a lot of reasons why ghosts are both potentially weak or potentially nasty... Don't these work out, on balance at least over the course of getting through Zot in a 3-5 rune run? Which is probably the area I'd be primarily interested in for now myself, to be completely honest. If the concern is more, how would this all fit with Extended, then I may just bow out and let others pick it up or not. I just haven't been there all that much.
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