Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb


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Shoals Surfer

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Post Thursday, 15th September 2016, 00:36

Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

Disclaimer: this is a radical change and I'm sure it will upset some players just by virtue of that if implemented. However, if anything, it is clear that Crawl devs aren't afraid of introducing radical changes. This might have a bigger scope than a lot of other 'radical changes', though.

***

Crawl already suffers from the problem of being too long - on the other hand, I'm not sure of how the pre-extended game could be trimmed further without cutting out good content. (A subject for another thread, perhaps.) As for the extended, though - the solution seems obvious. Pandemonium and Hell overlap in a lot of ways. Thematically - they're both vaguely defined demon-filled wastelands. Game-technically: they have a lot of the same monsters in them. (Actually, Hell is pretty much just "Pandemonium monsters split among the four realms in a thematic manner, plus mostly irrelevant popcorn".) Both Pan and Hell offer some added challenges compared to the pre-extended game - but once you've met a few of them and are able to handle them, most of Pan/Hell is just a slog.

Not much would be lost if Pan and Hell were to be merged - the game would become shorter while prospective 11-runers would face the same challenges as former prospective 15-runes, more or less. There are several ways this could be done. My idea is as such:

Hell (as in the separate realm) is removed as it is now. Its unique concepts make their way over into Pan.

Instead of random Pan floors being the realms of the four Pan lords, occasionally you will get portals leading to Coc/Tar/Geh/Dis. However, these would not be 7-level areas. The first six floors of any Hell realm are basically irrelevant for any extended-capable characters, and also uninteresting: the player just ends up running through them, often utterly ignoring everything on the screen (except for a handful of torment-capable threats like Ice Fiends in Coc). Lazy characters with lots of consumables might teleport if they get impatient and haven't found a down stairway for a while. Instead, the player is dumped into the equivalent of the seventh level immediately, and s/he cannot leave until the rune is acquired (to make up for the fact that s/he can freely choose to enter the portal or leave and have it spawn on another Pandemonium level). If this is considered too scary, then portals can simply be treated as special Pan levels are now - i.e. you only get them once, and are warned if you try to leave before tackling it). Monsters exclusive to Hell (such as iron giants) appear behind these portals. Same goes for "the mystical force of hell", if that is deemed to be a desirable concept worth saving over - though it might have to strike more often and with slightly different effects to stay relevant.

The pan lords and hell lords are merged in pairs, with the new creatures (based on the hell lords) being themed as the greatest of the pan lords. Cerebov is merged into Asmodeus, and Lom Lobon into Antaeus - who would become much like current Lom Lobon (actually, Lom Lobon could just replace Antaeus here since the latter doesn't actually do much other than do a lot of ice damage in melee). Mnoleg is merged into Ereshkigal - the new undead queen would be themed as a lady of both mutation and decay, able to do a mutating attack that also causes severe rotting (around 5-10% of current max HP, or 20-30 HP, something along those lines). Her realm would also have a lot of mutated beings around in addition to the undead. Gloorx is merged into Dispater - there is already a lot of undead in Dis, so this makes sense thematically. Now Dispater would be able to summon executioners as well and use Black Mark, or spit miasma.

I would also argue that these new pan lords should only drop their runes once they are dead. Ninjaing the pan/hell runes is currently too boring IMO, as it essentially wastes the bosses - optimal play usually makes it possible to apport or otherwise ninja the rune and ignore the bosses, and fighting the lords is usually counterproductive. If not, the current mechanic of them randomly appearing elsewhere in Pan and during the orb run could stay, although I feel this is insufficient punishment for not killing the bosses (though perhaps with stuff like new Ereshkigal, it would not be).

If the devs are attached to Geryon, he could appear in the vaults which generate the demonic rune. The TSO fortress could be reflavored as corrupt fallen angels (I already see it that way TBH) with Geryon being added next to the seraph, or the fortress just wouldn't have Geryon.

***

Tomb is another part of the extended endgame I don't like. Ghouls have a rather easy time there in there because of torment immunity, while others essentially have to get Kiku or Necromutation. Failing these, even with partial torment resistance (e.g. Gargoyles, Statue Form) the whole place becomes a stairdancing nightmare, essentially taking all the biggest problems of Crawl tactics (the tedious, yet optimal nature of kiting and stairdancing) and further magnifying them - at least during normal play, you can often get away with lazy play at the cost of an occasional extra consumable or two (which is a good thing as long as mass stairdancing and kiting are still the technically best way to play), while in Tomb you are absolutely forced into tedious, yet optimal play. (Two greater mummies are much more than twice as dangerous as one.) This becomes especially bad on the last level where you have to pop down for one turn and pull up whatever you can - even staying for two turns risks incurring so much torment and added damage that death becomes a real possibility. Very, very tedious.

There are two ways to solve this issue. One: make stairdancing impossible in the Tomb, either by forcing one-way passage or by making all up/down stairs into hatches (I prefer the latter). Of course, the potency of Tomb monsters needs to be scaled down in this case, as this much Torment without stairdancing would mean that the Tomb would become either impossible to complete, or extremely tedious and requiring a huge consumable tax. Two: vastly reduce the Torment spam and other factors that make stairdancing necessary - but then I fear that Tomb would become boring and rather indistinguishable from Vaults:5 or Crypt itself as far as gameplay is concerned. The Tomb is cool and I'd rather not cut it out, but you might as well do so if you choose the second option. (The third, secret option - namely, find a way to disincentivize stairdancing and kiting in Crawl in general - would probably be the best, but I also don't know how to go about it while retaining the core of the game, and also not making the game even more frustrating.)

My vision of a reformed Tomb would roughly be as follows: hatches instead of stairs; instead of the huge numbers of useless traps, have a set of Tomb-specific traps that would do chaotic stuff like teleport you around, or apply a Howl-like effect that summons death scarabs on you for a while. There could also be sarcophagi that generate a constant stream of lesser (non-Torment-capable) undead - they could only be destroyed by several castings of Disintegration or LRD (or just couldn't be destroyed at all). The hatch to the last level would drop you in an "outer ring" of a level which has an inner chamber; the rune would be in the middle, with numerous monsters guarding it, and the single stairway up on the same square as the rune. The golden rune could still be ninja'd, but the player would have to lure out the monsters and survive among them for a while before moving in - or s/he could just try fighting them as they slowly make their way out of the inner chamber. There is also a load of other loot (including the zig-fig) on the other squares inside the chamber.) Overall, there would be less Torment dispensers, and more other interesting, non-tormenting monsters (death scarabs, anubis guards, various liches).

***

Eager to hear some feedback on all this stuff I typed out!
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Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Thursday, 15th September 2016, 00:53

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

Merge Asmodeus into Cerebov instead of Cerebov into Asmodeus, on the basis that Cerebov is cooler and I feel like I'm at least slightly threatened by him when I fight him while I don't think I've ever been scared of Asmodeus.

I don't think there's much of any merit in the gameplay that Tomb's enemies lead to and I would rather see it axed than reworked. Tanky enemies that spam torment and summons aren't fun, and neither are death curses. A rework of Tomb that would make it into something I enjoyed would basically be creating a totally new area.

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Post Thursday, 15th September 2016, 10:46

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

Make Hell/Pandemonium more like the Lair branches: for each branch of Hell you get either the Hell branch (like always) or Pandemonium branch (with floors randomly generated every time you enter them, like ADOM's Infinite Dungeon). Remove 3 runes (2 exclusive ones and the pandemonium rune).
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Post Thursday, 15th September 2016, 10:50

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

Malevolent wrote:The first six floors of any Hell realm are basically irrelevant for any extended-capable characters, and also uninteresting: the player just ends up running through them, often utterly ignoring everything on the screen (except for a handful of torment-capable threats like Ice Fiends in Coc). Lazy characters with lots of consumables might teleport if they get impatient and haven't found a down stairway for a while.

It feels like I'm the only player who treats the first 6 floors of appropriate Hell branches as 'training from hell' zones. Before D was shortened with Depths, I'd be roaming Dis before D:22. Yes, wasting time in the upper floors of Hell is really bad for your chances to win, but I got a kick out of doing it (Hell deaths were too infrequent to deter me).


Anyway, not having both Pan and Hell in the same game is something devs have considered before in another thread.
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Post Thursday, 15th September 2016, 11:16

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

I think you might actually be literally the only person who does that. I've never heard of doing that, anyways.

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Thursday, 15th September 2016, 11:23

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

I've done that on my second, third, maybe fourth character?
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Dungeon Master

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Post Friday, 16th September 2016, 23:25

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

kuniqs wrote:Make Hell/Pandemonium more like the Lair branches: for each branch of Hell you get either the Hell branch (like always) or Pandemonium branch (with floors randomly generated every time you enter them, like ADOM's Infinite Dungeon). Remove 3 runes (2 exclusive ones and the pandemonium rune).


Why would you need to remove two exclusive runes on top of the demonic rune?
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Abyss Ambulator

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Post Saturday, 17th September 2016, 19:36

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

Crypt and Tomb should just be removed. Seriously, these branches do not add anything positive to the game aside from flavor. Who can appreciate flavor when they are sitting on the stairs going <><><><><><>? if you want to keep Mummies as enemies, give them an equivalent of Torment that allows them to use it without damaging living enemies in view, and put them in Depths and Zot, we all know those branches are too easy to begin with. With regards to pan and hell, I think alternating them is a good solution, with removal of the demonic rune, a reduction in Hell floors to 4 (let's be honest, all the action is on Hell:7 currently) and a guarantee of the unique pan runes within a fixed number of floors, that can be decreased by killing Pan lords.
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Post Saturday, 17th September 2016, 19:42

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

tabstorm wrote:Crypt and Tomb should just be removed. Seriously, these branches do not add anything positive to the game aside from flavor. Who can appreciate flavor when they are sitting on the stairs going <><><><><><>? if you want to keep Mummies as enemies, give them an equivalent of Torment that allows them to use it without damaging living enemies in view,
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Post Saturday, 17th September 2016, 20:05

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

tabstorm wrote:Crypt and Tomb should just be removed. Seriously, these branches do not add anything positive to the game aside from flavor.

In times like these I wish I could downvote posts here.

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Post Saturday, 17th September 2016, 22:29

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

Why do you disagree, though?

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Post Sunday, 18th September 2016, 03:39

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

But Hell and Pan are different in a way that Swamp and Shoals aren't. It's more like comparing the Abyss+Portalvaultrune (if such a thing existed) to the Vaults, if the Vaults threw hell effects at you and the Abyss didn't shift.
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Post Sunday, 18th September 2016, 14:21

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

Shard1697 wrote:Why do you disagree, though?

Because I think that Crypt and Tomb are awesome. If you want to make Tomb less annoying - just change greater mummies, make them not spam torment so much.

And besides, you can say the same about any other branch or feature. "Remove Swamp, because it doesn't add anything positive to the game aside from flavor".

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Post Sunday, 18th September 2016, 14:36

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

BabyRage wrote:
Shard1697 wrote:Why do you disagree, though?

Because I think that Crypt and Tomb are awesome.
Why, though? What are the positive gameplay elements that Crypt and Tomb bring to the game?

You can't just say the same thing about Swamp, because Swamp contains enemies that are fun to fight(in landscape layouts that are unique and make you consider positioning), while Crypt is pretty bland and very easy and Tomb is just a slog.
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Post Sunday, 18th September 2016, 15:03

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

Shard1697 wrote:
BabyRage wrote:
Shard1697 wrote:Why do you disagree, though?

Because I think that Crypt and Tomb are awesome.
Why, though? What are the positive gameplay elements that Crypt and Tomb bring to the game?

You can't just say the same thing about Swamp, because Swamp contains enemies that are fun to fight(in landscape layouts that are unique and make you consider positioning), while Crypt is pretty bland and very easy and Tomb is just a slog.

They are undead branches. And yes I like them for their flavor.
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Post Sunday, 18th September 2016, 15:06

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

So you agree with tabstorm's premise, then-just not their conclusion.
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Post Sunday, 18th September 2016, 15:55

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

When you realize the whole premise of Tomb is Torment spam because high level player characters don't take enough damage to reach 0 HP from non-unique extended monsters who don't use Hellfire or Torment (rip throwing).

Ok, this was probably not intentional, the original developers of Crawl probably just put Tomb in with lots of Torment because they thought it was cool, flavorful, unique, and already full of undead, probably not realizing that Tomb enemies cannot easily bring an XL27 player character to 0 HP. But, you should strive to have things that are both flavorful and actually good, as opposed to flavorful, but bad. Tomb has the problem of being both very flavorful and very bad. The main reason it is so bad is because of excessive torment spam necessitating stair dancing and excessive resting. The point of the game is supposed to be tactical positioning, but in Tomb we just throw this out the window and say "Nah, moving was actually a mistake." But if you removed the Torment spam the branch would be completely neutered.
It would still be bad, but bad in a different way. The layouts and noise mechanics would still remain. Wide-open levels are not actually a good feature, especially when combined with complete silence. Combining this with torment spam was probably another idea that sounded good because you will always be on low HP and it will feel dangerous, but again, you cannot easily be brought to zero. You have no terrain to use and basically have to just power through enemies and rest a lot upstairs. Ironically, Tomb is more dangerous for undead than it is for living player characters, because Bennu and Anubis Guards can actually bring you to zero very quickly.
If you removed the ability to stair dance Tomb without getting rid of the torment spam, it would become a teleport scroll sink that no one would do until they were overpowered at the end of the game or undead, and I doubt many would enjoy it any more. Does tele-rest-tele-rest-tele-rest sound more appealing to you than ><-rest-><-rest?

You really need to pair torment users with enemies that can do sufficient damage to bring a player character to 0. This works in extended with Brimstone Fiends and Hellions. Torment and Hellfire are good threats when mixed with normal enemies that otherwise wouldn't threaten a player too much, but at too high density, with bad layouts and mechanics (Tomb), they end up creating unfun gameplay. If you really insist on an undead branch for flavor reasons, you could always do something like move some Mummies to Crypt and rotate Crypt with Elf.
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Post Sunday, 18th September 2016, 16:29

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

I have played Tomb in CA fork twice where you cannot use stairs if getting any damage. It was ok with Necromutation but extremely hard with Statue Form, and no, teleports don't help that much because the level is full of monsters who can use torment/smite at the edge of view without line of fire.
I liked it, I don't see what is wrong with
tabstorm wrote:no one would do until they were overpowered at the end of the game or undead
, is it ok that all characters win with 15 runes now? Also I disagree with "you cannot easily be brought to zero", my last death in Tomb was to a pack of Death scarabs, I underestimated them like you seem to. Not everyone in Tomb has 30+ AC/EV, also smite ignores AC anyway
Underestimated: cleaving, Deep Elf, Formicid, Vehumet, EV
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Post Sunday, 18th September 2016, 16:40

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

Tomb is a good 3rd rune if you use Kiku or are undead, or it was in theory at some point. I just don't see how you are going to die to anything in Tomb if you don't move off the stairs until it is mostly clear. It is not like you are fighting 10 death scarabs at once, they have batty movement, no? You are going to fight like 3 on the downstair. It is unlikely that you are going to die from going downstairs and upstairs at full HP. If you aren't using high level spells there's no real reason for you to not have 30+ AC, there's no excuse to be wearing ring mail or something at XL27.
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Post Sunday, 18th September 2016, 19:52

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

Tomb is not everything about stairs, especially Tomb 1. Even stairs can be very bad, I remember my old game where I re-entered Tomb 2 and lost more than 50% HP instantly

  Code:
131120 | Tomb:2   | Huge Dmg: 92 dmg


My next action was to return back to Tomb 1 and I got this:

  Code:
131122 | Tomb:1   | Huge Dmg: 42 dmg


That's for Gr with crazy AC and torment protection. http://crawl.akrasiac.org/rawdata/Sandm ... 024246.txt

Using stairs takes more time in trunk now so it can be even worse than that.

I wonder if you tried Felid in extended, it cannot have AC 30 unless it is slowed. Also as you can see from that GrBe game of mine, AC is not that useful. Of course if you are Og of TSO in GDA or something, you don't notice the problem and Tomb is not challenging, just annoying.
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Abyss Ambulator

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Post Sunday, 18th September 2016, 22:23

Re: Merge Pan and Hell; reform Tomb

I've done extended as a VS of Chei multiple times, with at least one level of Frail, and used Statue form and had an easy time, rarely going below half HP. My point was that despite the "Huge Dmg!!!" notifications, you are unlikely to actually die in Tomb, especially since your morgue is from 0.14 and there are no scarabs, bennu, and so on. Maybe you have to use a haste potion or two on the stairs if the density of Mummies gets high enough, but it is not such a big deal. Also, why were you using a dire flail?
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