ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)


Although the central place for this kind of discussion is on the CDO wiki, some may find it helpful to discuss potential requests and suggestions here first.

Crypt Cleanser

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Post Saturday, 30th September 2017, 22:58

ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

Some background:

While spell school themes aren't entirely strict, they serve as rough guidelines that can give those schools identity. Necromancy traditionally incorporates three themes in crawl: self-sacrifice in exchange for power, aggressive debilitation, and undead allies. Currently, the balance seems heavily skewed towards undead allies; in my opinion this is the least interesting of the three and can make necromancy just seem like Summoning #2. The following spell proposal attempts to shift the balance more towards aggressive debilitation.

Zombie Hands - L7 earth/necromancy
Uses targeting identical to fire storm to immediately constrict all monsters in an area (constriction power scaling with spellpower).
"Decaying hands burst forth from the ground and attempt to drag all life back into the earth."
Thoughts:
* This spell should be fun - it should feel good when you first memorize it and when you cast it. It should be strong enough to wipe out weaker monsters and to do significant damage to moderately strong monsters no matter what.
* Monsters will not attempt to escape the constriction if they are not moving, so the player can choose between using this spell to temporarily immobilize monsters/deal some damage or to stand and 'tank' the monsters while the zombie hands kill them.
* This spell should affect monsters only, so zombie hands can be cast centered on the player if desired.
* I don't care if this spell affects flying monsters or not, that decision is mainly flavor.
* Zombie hands should possibly fail without costing a turn if you attempt to cast it while it's already active ("The earth is already roiling with zombie hands!") Otherwise it would succeed and reapply the original constriction, but is this even good to do?

Why is this spell two schools? Spells are generally dual school for a few different reasons: flavor, gating the spell, or to create interesting build choices for certain characters. Zombie hands seems to fulfill those three criteria.
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Vestibule Violator

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Post Sunday, 1st October 2017, 00:03

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

call it "Grasping Dead"

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Post Sunday, 1st October 2017, 00:12

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

At last the legendary zombie hands proposal hits the forum. Couple questions: Should it continue to affect things if I move out of line of sight (I assume no)? Are the zombie hands big enough to constrict all sizes of monsters or are the really big ones immune? Does the effect apply to the area itself or does it apply to the monsters within that area (ie does something that enters the zombie hands area a turn after I cast it get constricted or not)? In the latter case I think you'd want to allow recasting, in the former it depends on whether or not I should be able to have zombie hands in two different areas at the same time.

If anyone codes this up and submits a pr to hellcrawl it's 100% guaranteed include btw.

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Post Sunday, 1st October 2017, 01:02

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

I think that this should be able to work out of LOS (the hands are a fixed effect from the ground -- you aren't sustaining them some how). It should affect all monsters of all sizes (immaterial and jellies, etc, aside). It should also be AoE effect directly, not a direct monster-targeting spell.

The reasons for my opinions on this is that by late-game this spell might loose killing power against the strongest enemies, thus it should still have a purpose. That purpose would be trap-setting/guarding. Use this spell to lock-down an area to keep monsters out, so that any that enter get constricted and damaged, buying you time and also stopping them in their tracks.

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Post Sunday, 1st October 2017, 01:13

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

This sounds like fun, I may write up a PR this weekend if I find myself with extra time.
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Post Sunday, 1st October 2017, 13:22

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

So the proposal is a high level damage over time spell that stops monsters and reduces their EV? I am confused by the enthusiasm for this concept. Damage over time + stops monsters is a huge red flag for degenerate gameplay potential.
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Post Sunday, 1st October 2017, 19:57

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

watertreatmentRL wrote:So the proposal is a high level damage over time spell that stops monsters and reduces their EV? I am confused by the enthusiasm for this concept. Damage over time + stops monsters is a huge red flag for degenerate gameplay potential.

Yeah, in my head I'd already done some stuff to the original proposal to make it not abusable. The OP exactly as written is too powerful if used degenerately, however the concept (Eliding some of the details in the proposal as written that break it) is still an interesting one.

Compare to force lance for an in-game example of something that does damage and stops monsters and isn't degenerate. (Or conjure flame + GG for another example)
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Post Monday, 2nd October 2017, 01:12

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

My concern isn't that it's too powerful (though it may be, I don't know how "saving" vs. constriction works off the top of my head). It's a level 7 spell and constriction damage generally isn't very high. As an effect that incapacitates monsters, it is weaker than effects like entanglement, paralysis, confusion, dazzling, to name a few. Hell, it's probably not even as strong as the effect of miasma clouds.

Killing monsters with this thing would take a lot of turns. You can make it fun, I guess, by continuing to shoot stuff at them and mocking them with notes like "let me give you a hand," but what you really have is a lot of turns you wait through doing nothing while monsters slowly die. It's like ally play without the allies. I don't see the appeal outside of the imaginative aspect of it.
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Barkeep

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Post Monday, 2nd October 2017, 19:17

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

watertreatmentRL wrote:It's a level 7 spell and constriction damage generally isn't very high.

This spell could do more damage than player/monster constriction, which would help it to be stronger
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Post Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 05:50

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

Unless it turns into "zombie punch" with all damage dealt instantly, you're going to have the issue I described.
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Post Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 06:05

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

[obligatory comment about giving Necromancy yet another spell]

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Post Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 06:15

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

Speaking of which, move some of the high-level Necromancy spells into Poison already.

I mean, Borgnjor's theme can easily be poison, Death's Door's theme can easily be poison, Infestation's theme can easily be poison with wasps and hornets instead of death scarabs.

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Post Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 14:09

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

I would change it to a one turn constrict/damage burst, and then ongoing randomly distract/slow/confusing, the idea being that they are grabbed and then trying to avoid the sea of hands. It should never be that you can just wait it out and watch the whole room die. This should synergize well with both schools- it would stack well with Liquification and combo with LRD, and would be hella fun with simulacra.
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Post Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 16:40

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

Alphaeus wrote:I think that this should be able to work out of LOS (the hands are a fixed effect from the ground -- you aren't sustaining them some how)

I do not support this. My preference would be that no spells do anything out of LOS. Being able to damage enemies out of LOS is always absurdly powerful, even though it seems that many players rarely make use of it.

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Post Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 16:44

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

watertreatmentRL wrote:My concern isn't that it's too powerful (though it may be, I don't know how "saving" vs. constriction works off the top of my head). It's a level 7 spell and constriction damage generally isn't very high. As an effect that incapacitates monsters, it is weaker than effects like entanglement, paralysis, confusion, dazzling, to name a few. Hell, it's probably not even as strong as the effect of miasma clouds.

Killing monsters with this thing would take a lot of turns. You can make it fun, I guess, by continuing to shoot stuff at them and mocking them with notes like "let me give you a hand," but what you really have is a lot of turns you wait through doing nothing while monsters slowly die. It's like ally play without the allies. I don't see the appeal outside of the imaginative aspect of it.

Considering that it is a level 7 necromancy, there is rarely a reason not to combine it with one's own zombies. Used in that way it's just a straight up power boost, because it allows doing AoE damage through/behind allies. Allies would also stop the enemies from trying to break out of the constriction effect regularly.

The exact interaction with allies would need to be worked out. If it turns friendly summons hostile then it could potentially be very fiddly and annoying to use.
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Post Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 06:05

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

Could constricted monsters have the 'held' status, so that they are set up for stabbing? This would breathe some new (un-)life into the cloak-and-dagger strategy of crawl, which I find sadly lacking in the late game, as things stand now.
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Post Saturday, 7th October 2017, 03:18

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

njvack wrote:
watertreatmentRL wrote:It's a level 7 spell and constriction damage generally isn't very high.

This spell could do more damage than player/monster constriction, which would help it to be stronger


If you're a naga with 30+ str your constriction damage is pretty high. I think you could just have some spellpower-dependent str equivalent in the damage formula for the spell.

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Post Tuesday, 14th November 2017, 22:42

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

This sounded familiar, I had to trawl the 2011 archives:

https://crawl.develz.org/tavern/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6946&p=93378#p93378

Well, my version was a monster effect rather than a player spell, but I still really like the theme. My thoughts:

  • Constriction doesn't work here on a purely mechanical level. Constricting monsters are ones with large tentacles that can constrict your whole chest to stop you breathing. Zombie hands grabbing your ankles can't do this. Certainly the Held status or something very similar will work though. Monsters should still be able to fight, but with some penalty, and their EV is severely reduced.
  • I think it's more interesting if the effect is staged over a few turns; some hands rise after 1 turn, more on the 2nd, more on the 3rd. So not everything is held in place immediately. Also every tile in the AoE has a certain chance to get a hand, not every tile. Anyway these are more implementation details, but can also be balancing factors if it's too powerful. This makes it possible worthwhile to cast the spell more than once.
  • Large or insubstantial monsters probably shouldn't be affected
  • While I think it shouldn't affect the player, maybe it should still affect their allies. The hands aren't intelligent enough to know the difference between enemies and allies. Your allies can still fight of course.
  • As others have said, it shouldn't work out of LOS, a lot of effort has been made to remove any other spells/effects that used to work outside of LOS. As soon as you break LOS any held monsters would be released.

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