Ash enhancement proposal


Although the central place for design discussion is ##crawl-dev on freenode, some may find it helpful to discuss requests and suggestions here first.

Zot Zealot

Posts: 995

Joined: Thursday, 16th August 2018, 21:19

Post Saturday, 24th September 2022, 16:38

Ash enhancement proposal

I really miss the flexibility of the old Ash. Here's a proposal to maintain the fun aspects of the current Ash design (equipment piety system; creating fragile artifacts from equipment with a 'curse') , but allow Ash worshipers to switch between skills again.

step 1: give an equal boost to all skills based on the number of cursed item slots, similarly to bcrawl
step 2: implement a new roster of double-edged and plain bad curses to replace the current roster of Alchemy/Beguiling/etc
step 3: give the Transfer Knowledge skill on a piety gift timer when all slots are cursed

Here's a list of curse ideas:

Of uncontrollable phasing {-6AC +6EV}
Of resistance to weird things {rF- rC- rMut rCorr}
Of melting {-2AC -2EV -2SH rF+ rC+}
Of magic attunement {will-- +wiz}
Of Here! I am (Not!) {*blink +blink}
Of finding and losing {*Tele +Tele}
Of time dilation {*Slow *Haste}
Of uncontrollable rage {*rage +mayhem}
Of repurposed muscles {-6str +2int +2dex}
Of the thick skull {-6int +3AC}
Of fast hands and slow feet {ponderousness, evoking things is 10% faster}
Of uncontrollable clarity {clarity, enemies are enhanced as they also are during Ash wrath}
Of shafting {*shaft +shaft}
Last edited by petercordia on Tuesday, 27th September 2022, 08:26, edited 1 time in total.

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le_nerd

Slime Squisher

Posts: 377

Joined: Sunday, 11th September 2016, 17:21

Post Saturday, 24th September 2022, 22:15

Re: Ash enhancement proposal

Right now, when selecting Ash as my final (or only) deity, I separate equipment into 3 categories: trash items, from which to gain piety from curses that don't align with my build at all; mediocre items, for curses that partially align with my build, and good items, for curses that perfectly align with my build. The idea being, I want to load up on piety and cycle through offered curses as quickly as possible, replacing bad or mediocre curses with better ones until I eventually have only the best curses on items I plan to keep using for the rest of the game. This can be frustrating at times, when the RNG stubbornly refuses to offer curses and items that pair well together, but in general, it leads to satisfying strategic choices.

Adding disadvantages to the curses would destroy these choices. I would often find myself unwilling to accept a curse, but wanting to clear it out as quickly as possible, which would mean frequently making use of entirely unwanted items (like crystal plate mail on a deep elf conjurer) just to curse and immediately destroy. Also, I would hesitate to put pretty much any of the proposed double-edged sword curses on any equipment I wasn't willing to lose. Even a seemingly no-brainer choice, like +3AC -6INT for a no magic melee tank, could need to be destroyed in certain situations, e.g. where a scroll might be necessary and INT drain is possible. Without some other compensation, these 2 factors working in conjunction would mean significantly reduced piety gain from having fewer cursed items equipped, to the point where, without some significant adjustment to compensate, I wouldn't see Ash as worth picking under any circumstances. Even with adequate compensation, this system would feel much less strategically interesting, more tedious, and less satisfying.

The upside would be that a player's selection of curses could theoretically influence the order in which they tackle branches, in cases where one or more of their current curses are well suited for a branch they would otherwise prefer to tackle later or poorly suited for a branch they would otherwise prefer to tackle sooner. However, I'm skeptical as to how well this would work in practice, simply because a significant (if not the most significant) factor in branch selection is raw power. For example, I generally would choose to tackle the Snake Pit before the Tomb, even if I hadn't found any rPois, rF, or rElec but had found rN+++. That being the case, I expect the typical remedy would be to destroy the curses that were poorly suited for the next branch choice, rather than reordering branches.

As for the old XP transfer skill... I was quite a fan of it, albeit only in niche situations. However, the current system kind of offers the same value in a more strategically interesting way, so I think the new system is better. So, for example, say you're playing a meleedude and you don't want to heavily commit skill XP to your starter weapon because you want to be able to efficiently change weapon categories if you find a really nice artefact. You can stack your curses current weapon skill on low- to medium-value items while allocating more skill XP to more general skills like Fighting than you otherwise would. Then, when you decide which weapon skill to settle on, you can start focusing skill XP into that while gradually replacing the items cursed to benefit your starting weapon skill.

Also, unlike stat allocation, skill XP allocation is something players can afford to mess up without permanently damaging their character. As long as the player can compensate with good tactics long enough, they will be able to earn more skill XP for their new skill preferences. In a way, this is a better approach than using the old skill allocation, because there's no tax applied to it, and the seemingly obsolete skill investments could potentially prove unexpectedly valuable as new items are discovered.

Tomb Titivator

Posts: 806

Joined: Sunday, 23rd June 2013, 15:20

Post Sunday, 25th September 2022, 13:34

Re: Ash enhancement proposal

Before the overhaul, I was an almost 100% Ash-only worshipper; afterwards I have not finished a single game with her. New!Ash is a nightmare in terms of complexity and userfriendlyness. I support any change that makes her more simple again.

The first large offender is the randart-transformations. It makes it impossible to read your equipment properly. In console, the names are too long to fit on the "%" screen and force a ton of linebreaks on a laptop screen. Old!Ash had cursed RED items, without changing the customary screen otherwise, allowing for quick reading. New!Ash just forces very new reading practice on you.

Second offender is skill boost change. To play Ash I need to learn by heart all the weird names (Cunning! Companions!). If I want to know how many skillboosts I have of manually check and add them.

Third offender is permascrying breaks autotravel and autofight.

I recognize the work that went into it and its upsides (full item ID! Curse scroll removal!) - but man in she the fiddliest goddess in the game right now. Anything to make her simpler again please.

Zot Zealot

Posts: 995

Joined: Thursday, 16th August 2018, 21:19

Post Tuesday, 27th September 2022, 09:01

Re: Ash enhancement proposal

Having thought about your replies, I have come to the conclusion that (these) double-edged curses probably aren't a good idea for Ash.

I think Nekoatl is right that the curses wouldn't be worth it. You have 9 pieces of equipment that need to be cursed, and with the level of curse I had in mind that leaves you worse than Ru. And I don't think this can be fixed, at least not in an interesting manner, because an interesting double-edged curse has to be worth at least negative 2 stat points (for average characters).

As for the old XP transfer skill... I was quite a fan of it, albeit only in niche situations. However, the current system kind of offers the same value in a more strategically interesting way, so I think the new system is better. So, for example, say you're playing a meleedude and you don't want to heavily commit skill XP to your starter weapon because you want to be able to efficiently change weapon categories if you find a really nice artefact. You can stack your curses current weapon skill on low- to medium-value items while allocating more skill XP to more general skills like Fighting than you otherwise would. Then, when you decide which weapon skill to settle on, you can start focusing skill XP into that while gradually replacing the items cursed to benefit your starting weapon skill.


I played wizards of Ash fairly frequently. Maybe I'm missing something because I'm too stuck in the old ways. I used to be able to play (for example) a NaWz^Ash. I'd find fireball, train fireball up to very good spell power. If I did't find any other fire spells, but I did find good summoning spells, at some point I'd make the decision to transition. Train summoning at 100% and transfer knowledge into summoning. Within 3 dungeon floors I'd be Summoning Hydra.
With other gods like Chei or Sif, it'd take 6 floors and it just wouldn't be worth it. I'd be too weak after 5 floors of not getting useful xp. Better to invest xp into fighting/armour/dodging/shields/stealth/evocations and wait for a high level fire/conjuration spell.
The new Ash is even worse than Chei or Sif. Not only do I need to train up a spell school from scratch if I want to transition, I have to transition my curses too.

Maybe I'm missing something. Is there a way the new Ash can help compensate for book drop RNG?

  Code:
Anything to make her simpler again please.

Yet another reason not to implement double-edged curses :?

As an alternative route to making her simpler, whilst also making her more flexible:

step 1: give an equal boost to all skills based on the number of cursed item slots, similarly to bcrawl
step 2: make cursing and uncursing more impactful by clever use of the gift timer
step 3: give the Transfer Knowledge skill on a piety gift timer when all slots are cursed

To be specific, the amount of exploration you have to do to get a new "curse item" opportunity could increase greatly as more of your item slots fill up with curses. If you have to explore 5 dungeon floors to get your last equipment slot cursed, but full Ash piety does give nice benefits (such as universal skill boosts [possibly even going beyond 27 as in bcrawl] and Transfer Knowledge) it could be interesting. Maybe :?:
The decision of whether to transition equipment items 1 at a time or a whole bunch at once at least wouldn't be trivial.

For the problem with some people not liking perma scrying, you could make it toggleable and decrease the curse gift rate when it's toggled on.

I'd also be curious to see what would happen if Transfer Knowedge was permanently toggleable at full Ash piety, at no cost. Just transfer 1 unit of xp every time you gain 1 unit of xp.

Finally, anyone have any ideas for the double-edged curses I proposed in the original post? What would you think if Ru offered things like this? (I'm willing to clarify any that are unclear)

Slime Squisher

Posts: 377

Joined: Sunday, 11th September 2016, 17:21

Post Wednesday, 28th September 2022, 19:15

Re: Ash enhancement proposal

Ash does offer the ability to quickly retool to make use of spells that weren't trained for up to that point, by investing smaller amounts of skill xp into spell schools and picking curses to make up the difference, then switching those curses when switching spell focuses. However, the catch is that Ash doesn't offer this reliably, as it can potentially take quite a long time to get the desired curses, and that will understandably be a deal-breaker for some people (especially streakers). I suspect that if curses were offered more frequently (at least, following an unwanted curse, e.g., via an activated ability to reject the current curse offering in order to more quickly be offered an alternative), then more people would probably find the current system enjoyable.

Personally, though, when I want to play a noncommittal spellcaster like you describe, I prefer picking either a gnoll or deep elf conjurer of Sif Muna, and spreading my skill points around between spellcasting, the various schools, and invocations. It seems completely appropriate that Sif Muna should be a better choice than Ash for a noncommittal spellcaster, as that's Sif Muna's target demographic, whereas Ash isn't focused on any particular build.

A tax-free passive XP transfer and/or having curse bonuses raise skills beyond the cap of 27 would be quite interesting, though.

As an alternative usage for the double-edged curses, I think randarts already more or less do this, no?

P.S. I support the recent decision to remove passive scrying.

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