Abstract away monster weapons


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Slime Squisher

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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 06:32

Abstract away monster weapons

I believe monster weapons are bad. Here are my reasons:

  • They create hundreds of meaningless decisions: Every worthless short sword or hand axe you see on the ground *is* a decision. No, not much of one, but in roguelikes that don't have monster weapons as actual items, I notice that the simplicity really does make the game run more smoothly. Even if you automatically decide "no" on junk weapons, they still cause visual clutter that most players are going to see a fair amount (both in viewing items on the ground and on the map).
  • They create guaranteed items: You can pretty near-certain that you're going to get the complete set of good but non-rare weapons (like battleaxes) from Orc and Vaults. I think there's more of a potential for interesting decisions if there isn't an easy, guaranteed source of high-tier weapons - forcing players to adapt to what the floor gods drop is a good thing IMO.
  • They impose a substantial tracking burden on the player: As in, you have to keep track of what monster has what weapon. Now, there's nothing wrong with the occasional monster that's randomly more dangerous than its fellows, but I don't think making the player keep close track of a bunch of identical or nearly-identical tiles/glyphs is a good thing. Especially since many weapon-wielding monsters appear in large groups. In particular, this is a nasty noob trap on D:1, where a goblin with no weapon will usually take at least four hits to kill you, but one with a club can easily do it in two.
  • They create a lot of pointless variation in monsters: If I told you that I wanted to introduce two monsters, with identical stats except one had a base damage of 45, the other of 40, I think you'd tell me just to merge them.
  • Monster weapon speed is weird: I've been playing Crawl since 0.4, and I still have no idea how it works.

So here's what I propose:
  • Monster base damage is increased to compensate for the lost weapons: It should be based on the average weapon the monster would get. This would make combat swingier - if this is considered a bad thing, weapon-wielding monsters could have their damage split into two die (I think this is fairly intuitive to most people).
  • Monster weapon speed is given three levels: Fast (.67aut), normal (1aut), and slow (1.5aut). Simple to put in xv, and the same for all monsters of a given type.
  • Variant monsters can replace interesting brands: For example, there could be very rare "goblins of Lugonu" that have distortion-branded attacks. I don't think the basic multiplier damage brands are anything worth preserving, though.
  • Variant monsters could also replace non-weapon wielding monsters: This is mainly to preserve the current state of D:1, while improving the interface. Instead of just goblins, you have goblins (same stats as now), and goblin fighters (with something like 9 or 2d4 base damage). You might argue that introducing more monsters isn't a good thing, but I would argue that this is the situation currently - a goblin with a club is a different monster than a goblin without, but right now they're very poorly differentiated in the interface.
  • Armed uniques are handled slightly differently: The damage works the same way for them as for normal monsters, but on death they do still drop a weapon. If they would have gotten a branded weapon currently, they still get that brand, which would be indicated much as it is now (xv, comes into view message). I don't think it's too bad that players have to check the brand for rare monsters like uniques.

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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 06:46

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

ion_frigate wrote:Monster weapon speed is weird: I've been playing Crawl since 0.4, and I still have no idea how it works.
Basically it's an average between 1.0 and the weapon's base delay.
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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 08:12

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

ion_frigate wrote:For example, there could be very rare "goblins of Lugonu" that have distortion-branded attacks.

But then I couldn't Tukima's Dance them!
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HaCKSpAEGrTmDgFEDsCjGhMoHuVM{HaAMBaEn}{HuMoHOWn}DsWzDDHu{DgWnGnBe}FeIE
{MiEnMfCj}SpNeBaEEGrFE{HaAKTrCK}DsFESpHu{FoArNaBe}FeEE{HOIEMiAE}GrGlHuWrGnWr
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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 15:49

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

+1

Good concept, and a cool idea to put a brand like distortion onto religion.
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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 17:06

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Under the current system, if you want a certain weapon type, you have an incentive to visit dangerous areas earlier than normal to go fishing for a certain desired weapon (orc for battleaxes, depths for demon blades, shoals for glaives) etc. Making the system entirely reliant on RNG would remove this interesting strategic trade-off.

In principle I like the idea of enemy variants aligned with gods, but how would a mere goblin get enough piety to become Lucy's champion and pray to her for the disto brand? I guess in the end this is just another flavor argument, so feel free to tune out, but I really like the idea that the gods don't play favorites between their worshipers -- whether you're a monster or a PC, you have to earn their respect by piety gain. Currently, most of crawl's god-aligned uniques (Psyche, Roka, Yiuf, Wiglaf, Asterion -- I can't remember if Snorg is flavored as a Trog worshiper) have powers that are basically in line with the powers that would belong to a religious player of that approximate power level. The only exceptions I can think of are Dissolution, who I imagine worships Jiyva but doesn't have Jiyva powers, and Mennas, an angel of Zin who doesn't use Zin abilities. But then, nothing about crawl angels makes sense in terms of flavor, so Mennas's case isn't really surprising.

Regardless of the monster weapon question, I would love to see more uniques aligned with gods, or reflavored to worship gods -- Qazlal, Fedhas, Dith, Lucy uniques would be awesome, and I'm surprised Maurice doesn't worship Dithmenos already.
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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 17:56

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

elmdor wrote:In principle I like the idea of enemy variants aligned with gods, but how would a mere goblin get enough piety to become Lucy's champion and pray to her for the disto brand?
The same way the kobolds in that Lugonu vault did.

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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 19:27

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

elmdor wrote:Under the current system, if you want a certain weapon type, you have an incentive to visit dangerous areas earlier than normal to go fishing for a certain desired weapon (orc for battleaxes, depths for demon blades, shoals for glaives) etc. Making the system entirely reliant on RNG would remove this interesting strategic trade-off.

You could play with branch/depth-specific probabilities for floor drops to recreate this incentive, no?
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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 19:51

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

You just described everything i have fun with. What game am i playing?
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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 21:00

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

i really really like tukima's

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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 21:11

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

elmdor wrote:Qazlal, Fedhas, Dith, Lucygo [...]


Gender politics aside, good idea! If better weapons become less common as a result that might well encourage more flexible play! It might just make M&F somewhat less commonly used.
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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 22:42

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Beogh can be improved by abstracted monster weapons as well-give all melee orcs orc warrior and up polearms(with bigger polearms in their tile to reflect their increasing power-warriors get halberds, knights get glaives, warlords get bardiches(visually only)), so that you don't have to bother yourself vacuuming up polearms to give to orcs later, or doing things like giving higher tier orcs faster polearms so they get to attack more rapidly.

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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 22:59

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Yeah, OP's suggestion would not be trivial to implement, but it would streamline the interface and even improve the aesthetics of Crawl considerably, and would provide a framework within which a lot of other issues (e.g., polearms-mongering under Beogh) could be more easily addressed.

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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 23:25

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

I really like that early game monsters are differentiated - You're going to fight SO MANY KOBOLDS in your DCSS life, and it adds some variety that they're not exactly the same.

Plus it allows you to get a decent branding weapon without playing the stupid identify/remove curse game, which I hate.

Still, after lair-ish none of this seems to matter much, and it is such a pain to look at every stupid orc to see if any of the stupid vanilla orcs have distortion. And I am still mad at Nergalle + hasted spectral orc + distortion = abyss.
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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 23:28

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Huge Ogre nerf.
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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 23:32

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

I'd assume that weapon generation rates would be altered, if a change like this were implemented. One advantage of ion_frigate's framework is that monster damage and weapon drops would no longer be linked, as they are now, so they could be tweaked separately.

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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 23:35

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

tabstorm wrote:Huge Ogre nerf.
What's this? Every single meaningful change will buff something and nerf something else. Weapon generation rates/rules can be adapted, or an ogre unique (whose weapons are real) can be created etc.

Pointing out some implication without any further comment is not only sidestepping the actual discussion, it's an invitation to bikeshedding. We've seen enough of that.

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Post Monday, 11th July 2016, 23:59

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

dpeg wrote:Weapon generation rates/rules can be adapted, or an ogre unique (whose weapons are real) can be created etc.
This doesn't happen most of the time, so it's hardly offtopic to discuss the consequences of it not happening

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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 00:20

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Flagging substantive unintended consequences of a proposed change seems pretty on topic to me. Yes, maybe a consensus develops that the consequence doesn't matter, or that some particular compensating change should be made: but neither will happen if it's never mentioned in the first place. Maybe you would call that sort of discussion "bikeshedding;" I would call it "talking through the proposal."

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Halls Hopper

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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 05:25

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

So, here's my two cents. I really like that monsters have weapons. It has the added bonus that sometimes they'll pick up something I left or haven't seen yet and suddenly I have a threat. I do like the idea of more monsters, and I definitely like the idea of more brands and weapon types. I love crawl for the variety; and the more variety I have on screen, the more I can think and strategize, and for me, that is LOVELY. Besides that, while it would be really nice to have a use for all the weapons and items that I don't take with me; which will always be something to think about even without bands of piddly little goblins due to simple floor plan spawn; I like the idea of certain monsters and floors carrying the annotation of certain weapon types. For example, I'm pretty happy to fight gnoll bands; I know there's throwing nets in it for me most of the time. I love to fight wights; they often carry enchanted weapons. Of course, those are balanced by frequently being cursed.

I can say very strongly that I strongly oppose any simplifying this game. Simplification has happened to a lot of games, even big popular ones like WoW, and I never liked it. I even stopped playing the aforementioned once it got babied down too much. Forcing players to adapt is one thing, but you don't want to make it basically a lottery. Decisions are a good thing. FTL is an example of this.

That's not to say your proposal is necessarily a bad one, however. Variant monsters sounds like a good idea. The more on-my-toes I have to be, the better. Right now it's easy to just tab through the early levels of dungeon and even lair if I'm tough enough, pausing to deal carefully with vaults and uniques.
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 05:44

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Haelyn wrote:So, here's my two cents. I really like that monsters have weapons. It has the added bonus that sometimes they'll pick up something I left
Monsters have not done this for a while.

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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 07:33

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Please, could this reasoning extended to armor too? A D:1 goblin is far different from a D:1 chain mail goblin, no matter if you are a melee or book background (excluding some cases like IE or Ne).

What's worse is even more "spoilery" than weapons. Players have to note when monster wear ego armor and always suppose the worst. For example, an egoed plate orc warrior isn't much different from a chain mail orc warrior for a Ne, until he cast pain and discover it is a rn+ plate mail.

Obliviously, every point of OP can be tweaked to this case.
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 07:59

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Goblins of Lugonu and electric yaks will not reduce the cognitive load of varied branded melee attacks within a pack of monsters. Instead, it will introduce nonsense flavor (since when has being a follower of Lugonu meant your melee attacks are branded with distortion?) at the expense of flavor that actually explains gameplay, the symmetry between the effects of weapon brands in the hands of the player and monsters. The cognitive load of various different brands showing up could be dealt with just as well by not allowing monsters to use certain branded weapons, e.g. flame, freeze, chopping, that do not produce sufficiently interesting effects, much the way they are limited in what wands and consumables they use.

The most relatable objection in the OP is the interface issue. Crawl does not adequately convey what weapon monsters are using in packs. I suggest that branded weapons be indicated by a changed background color on the console, color coded so that you know which guy has distortion, holy wrath, venom etc. perhaps in a context sensitive way so that players who won't be effected by a branded weapon are spared some visual noise. For tiles, it would be nice if the glow of branded weapons indicated by its color or intensity what brand it is.

The idea that melee threats in crawl are, in general, too varied should strike most players as odd. On the other hand, when the variation is hidden, that's not good. The point nago makes about monster armor is good, but the answer is the same as the answer for monster weapons: Identify ego armors worn by monsters, so the player knows the monster resists such and such an attack.
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 08:22

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

goodcoolguy wrote:Goblins of Lugonu and electric yaks will not reduce the cognitive load of varied branded melee attacks within a pack of monsters.
It will, however, make it more clear which have which and make you spend less time doing x->v.
goodcoolguy wrote:Instead, it will introduce nonsense flavor (since when has being a follower of Lugonu meant your melee attacks are branded with distortion?)
Ever since Lugonu has been around basically, since they eventually give you a gift of guaranteed distortion brand.
goodcoolguy wrote:The idea that melee threats in crawl are, in general, too varied should strike most players as odd.
OP never said that melee threats are "too varied", what they are talking about is cutting pointless variation. eg: goblin with whip vs. goblin with short sword
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 08:49

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Shard1697 wrote:
goodcoolguy wrote:Instead, it will introduce nonsense flavor (since when has being a follower of Lugonu meant your melee attacks are branded with distortion?)
Ever since Lugonu has been around basically, since they eventually give you a gift of guaranteed distortion brand.


No.

OP never said that melee threats are "too varied", what they are talking about is cutting pointless variation. eg: goblin with whip vs. goblin with short sword


One drops a whip, one drops a short sword. This objection makes no sense.
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 08:53

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

How are ranged weapons handled? How do you distinguish ranged goblins from melee goblins? IMO the clearest way is to have different monsters, like plain goblin and goblin sharpshooter. But that introduces a lot of monster types.

I think I agree with goodcoolguy. If variability in monster attacks (and defense!) is desirable, then weapons and armor convey it pretty well. God-themed monsters are a cool idea, but I don't see why their sole purpose is to convey a branded attack.

EDIT: FWIW I'll miss getting loot from monsters, but I think OP's ideas are pretty sound. Make each specific monster type less variable, introduce monster types to create variability.
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 09:37

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

I like monsters having weapons. It's great that they do variable amounts of damage. In tiles, I can already see well enough which monsters have dangerous weapons. If armour would be displayed in a similar vein, it would be great.
DCSS: 77: ...SpWz{OgGlTrMo}{CeWnMfBeMiSk}DrEE{GrFiFoGl}DgEnFeNe{OpGlHuSu}DDAr
HaCKSpAEGrTmDgFEDsCjGhMoHuVM{HaAMBaEn}{HuMoHOWn}DsWzDDHu{DgWnGnBe}FeIE
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 16:38

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Just adding my two copper. It's more than two and in no particular order.

-Hmm? I thought "randomizing" enemies is like, a very "crawl" thing to do. Like, you can't sleep on kobold 2 because you killed kobold 1 effortlessly.

-I personally have no trouble telling who is equipped with what or decisions or visual clutter or anything. I think I would have more trouble telling the "special" goblin apart from the other goblins lol.
Yeah gotta admit I sucked at "Where's Waldo".

-What about reaching weapons, launchers, ammo, armours and other items equipped / carried by monsters?

-Jiyva peity (this god exists)

-Ash warnings even more obsolete

-The big one for me: Getting hold of a halfway decent weapon (you want this) is already a gamble as it stands. There's no guaranteed ways to find a good weapon. Acq is a gamble, floor items are a gamble, Uniques are not guaranteed to show up and/or carry anything decent, same with regular enemies. Oka might get around gifting you something workable EVEEEEEEEENNNTUALLYYYYY. Only Trog has a fair chance of maybe gifting you something good in a reasonable amount of time. Maybe. And I don't like the idea of giving Trog even more of a monopoly on weapons - I don't like being shoe-horned into a god pick like that.

Being at the total mercy of ground floor RNG isn't great when it comes to weapons because of the XP system. You have to use whatever you find which means you just wasted a (perhaps a significant amount) of XP on whatever weapon you had to use in the meantime. Fun. But more power to Ash skill swap, I guess.

Like, I wouldn't even recommend anyone to start with a sword in the current meta. Every sword type above longsword is very rare, even a scimitar is hard to find unless you luck into a unique or an efreet.
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 16:51

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

removeelyvilon wrote:Every sword type above longsword is very rare, even a scimitar is hard to find unless you luck into a unique or an efreet.
Not really? Scimitars and greatswords are both quite common.
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 16:58

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Aha, I may have missed the point slightly. I do still want to have more decisions, more variation, in this game, especially where it counts during early game. But,

I'm gonna agree with goodcoolguy in relation to on of the OP's complaints. Now, I never really had trouble picking out the enchanted weapon wielder in the group of monsters in front of me, but it certainly would be nice to know what I'm up against a little more clearly.

Also gonna agree with removeelyvilon. Ranged and close combat distinction is an important one, and I'll add on to that; it's important when some monsters have reaching and some don't. Gnolls that often generate with polearms come to mind.

And some monsters are defined by the weapons they carry. Again, wights come to mind. One might be carrying a piddly hand axe or an enchanted great sword.
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 19:36

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

If items aren't going to be abstracted, monster names should change according to the weapon they carry. It is extremely tedious in console to figure out what monster is carrying what weapon. At least of orc_w/_glaive has a different name than orc_w/_club, you can tell that there is a dangerous weapon out there.

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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 20:27

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

nago wrote:Please, could this reasoning extended to armor too?
The reasoning can, but I'm pretty sure it's a good idea to do this in steps. And I think the OP is right in suggesting weapons rather than armour.

Note that "just" doing this for weapons comes with a lot of follow-up changes: for each humanoid monster, you need to settle on the one default weapon. Some monsters will be split into several types (for different weapons), but you certainly don't want to do this for all monsters and all weapons. Then there's weapon generation. And special stuff, such as distortion.
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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 22:01

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

so seriously what happens to tukima's though

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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 22:15

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

tbh monster weapons used to be really cool when monsters could pick up any weapon... this led to things like imps picking up shortbows (my most best death from when i started playing crawl, killed by a blinking imp with a centaur's shortbow), or packs of orcs and gnolls arming themselves with the best weapons from their fallen friends. this was removed for the benefit of people who resolved to throw dangerous items into lava, maintain temple stashes, etc. that was a good decision i guess, though i miss this feature every time i have to chase down a worthless harmless imp for free XP now. now that monsters can't pick up seen floor weapons, there's really no point in not abstracting the weapons, as long as meaningful variety in monster armament is retained (what's the point of gnolls if the one with the whip doesn't stand in front of the one with the halberd?), and hopefully as long as something is done with tukima's (like, spawns an animated weapon which debuffs the monster's attack until the spell expires).

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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 22:20

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

gnolls did pretty well in the ~15 years that most polearms didn't have reaching

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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 22:25

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

yesno wrote:so seriously what happens to tukima's though


Tukima's is cool but it is a total silver bullet. I think it's probably expendible. Some sort of "summon temporary monster mimic near target" would get the same gameplay in.

This is going to be awkward with ranged ammo though. Maybe put this off until ammo is gone?

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Post Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 22:30

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

duvessa wrote:gnolls did pretty well in the ~15 years that most polearms didn't have reaching


that's fine i guess but they're way better and cooler with reaching.

phloomp wrote:tukima's is cool but it is a total silver bullet. I think it's probably expendible.


tukima's is one of the best coolest funnest spells in the game. what are you maniacs trying to do

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Post Wednesday, 13th July 2016, 00:07

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Can we remove player weapons too? Just having the options of "range" and "melee" should be enough. Making the player pick between complex things like axes, or short/long blades is way too confusing, and the variety is artificial. :oops:

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Post Wednesday, 13th July 2016, 05:38

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

Wow, this idea gained a lot more traction than I'd thought. Honestly, I'm not sure how much I can say to the objections - I feel like other people have answered them better, and for the most part I'd just be repeating things from the OP. But a couple of points:

  • I'd definitely assumed always-mulching ammo would be a prerequisite to this. I gather that's a change that really is on its way.
  • Weapon weights would definitely be adjusted. In particular, I feel like starting weapons should be more common: not being able to switch to M&F because you haven't found any is boring, but wondering whether you should switch to Axes because you found an exec axe and your best M&F is a flail *is* interesting. Right now, the answer is always no, because you know you'll get a great mace at some point.
  • Most of the variety that people fear would be lost (like polearm gnolls) can be done with variant monsters.
  • Personally I'd rather see Tukima's turn into "summon spectral weapon based on monster HD" than be removed entirely. It wouldn't be the first time the spell has completely changed its nature.
  • I agree with others that the same logic can definitely be applied to armor, but weapons cause a lot more clutter, so I went for them first.

Abyss Ambulator

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Post Wednesday, 13th July 2016, 07:41

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

yesno wrote:so seriously what happens to tukima's though

It can still summon a temporary weapon based on the monster type. It could also be made that the monster loses its abstract weapon.

Barkeep

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Joined: Wednesday, 14th August 2013, 23:25

Location: USA

Post Wednesday, 13th July 2016, 22:46

Re: Abstract away monster weapons

swoonis wrote:Can we remove player weapons too? Just having the options of "range" and "melee" should be enough. Making the player pick between complex things like axes, or short/long blades is way too confusing, and the variety is artificial. :oops:


You could plausibly reduce offensive physical combat to three skills: Fighting, Melee Training, Aim. (I mean, you could reduce it to two, or even just one, but that would be a pretty huge buff.) In either case, Stealth could govern all stabbing damage, and a lot of redundant weapon types could be removed. Those that remain could have their own quirks (dagger --> stabbing), but all operate under one skill. This removes a lot of features that complicate DCSS but don't really add a lot of depth in most play-throughs.

Con: Power-creep (better overall weapon availability since one skill lets you use them all). Pro: You'd possibly have interesting choices to actually make amongst weapons.

If enemy weapons were abstracted at the same time as this change, however, perhaps there would not be so much power creep, as there would be significantly fewer weapons. (Though some things, like giant (spiked) clubs, should then generate on the dungeon floor more frequently.)

Such a change could possibly be coupled with a larger change in skill training, with removal of breakpoints for min_delay or whatever, so you are encouraged to train higher skill levels.

Could be a fun branch/variant of Crawl, if this is all getting too radical.

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