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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Tartarus Sorceror

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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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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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Post Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 03:51

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

This spell has been implemented as Borgnjor's Vile Clutch (name based on IRC discussions). It's now available in the Ne starting book, as well as in the book of Unlife and in the book of Dreams.

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Post Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 06:25

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

Necromancy school: now even more without any theme whatsoever. It now provides charms, transmutations, summoning, damage, hexes, summoning as damage and hex, damage spells which work using hex mechanisms, and life-saving spells which fit in no other school.

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Post Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 10:08

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

Corpses, undead, death, draining, damaging oneself. I think there is quite enough of a theme for necromancy, just as much as any other school has.

That said, this new spell does'n really fit in, in my opinion. It would, if the zombie hands would only raise from squares where monsters where actually killed in the game... (no I'm not suggesting this).
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Post Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 17:03

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

Corpse interaction (corpse rot, animate skeleton/dead, embrace, simulacrum) and HP interaction (vampiric draining, sublimation, regeneration, agony, revivification, death's door) are Necromancy's major themes, to be sure, but my problem with this is both of these themes are incredibly strong - Necromancy would still be a decent school if one of these was removed/split altogether, Enchantments style.

A second problem is that Necromancy also gets a bunch of side perks: both direct (haunt) and kill-dependent (infestation, death channel) summoning in a game where summons are already very powerful, and anti-living/anti-undead spells that make Necromancy better than Poison Magic at one of the latter's supposed gimmicks.

My proposal, as usual, would be to move some Necromancy spells out of the school. It's easy to repackage zombie hands, for example, as an earth/hexes spell that animates stone hands instead of corpses to grasp its victims.

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Post Sunday, 24th December 2017, 00:29

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

Great job gammafunk! I think I speak for all of the tavern when I say we appreciate the work you do adding exciting new features to crawl and we look forward to trying this spell out in the current version of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup trunk.
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Post Sunday, 24th December 2017, 10:53

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

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Post Wednesday, 27th December 2017, 09:13

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

I've tried it with a Gn and it is hilarious.

Maybe not so broken with a normal race as nobody till today would have gone with earth/necro training but that not remove the design problems behind this spell such as is now.

Anyway handy icon is very cute would 100% cast again.
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Post Wednesday, 27th December 2017, 13:20

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

nago wrote:nobody till today would have gone with earth/necro training


I am not sure. Passwall and Regeneration/Animate Dead are useful for everyone and it is not like the spell is supposed to be spammed as far as I understand. For instance, my last 3-runer would happily cast the spell (Animate Dead at 9% with "just" 11 skills in Necro and Int 9 in plate armour without wizardry, Passwall at 4% with Earth 8)
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Post Monday, 1st January 2018, 17:16

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

nago wrote:I've tried it with a Gn and it is hilarious.

Maybe not so broken with a normal race as nobody till today would have gone with earth/necro training but that not remove the design problems behind this spell such as is now.

Anyway handy icon is very cute would 100% cast again.


for turncount (semi)speedrun is pretty standard for me to go statue/necromancy and control undead was a reason for this among regen+animate dead ofc

this spell now even buffs necro start and the book for the immediate lair/3rune content imo. it seems really strong so far! only very few mobs immune (insubstancial, rConstrict)

so ye i agree with leszczynek comment above (yet another goodspell for necromancy?) but am glad as long as its in the game bcz good...

of course its a spell you almost always cast before fight and which needs targetting, so interface meh in terms of fluent/fast gamelplay

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Post Tuesday, 2nd January 2018, 06:51

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

nvm
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Post Friday, 5th January 2018, 07:34

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

after playing with it more, it seems there is an issue with autotarget with this spell!

sometimes you cannot target an enemy after just pressing spell macro, or it says "no viable target blabla" although there are suscible targets in range! its definitely unrelated to range, mobs also werent resistant (mostly happened in snake to me)

i had the feeling it happens at strange ankles and especially happened to me when the monsters were behind/between my own zombies. manually selecting the target does the job well and i killed those mobs.

and yea the spell is really good, even endgame/extended kills pretty dangerous mobs without any trouble.

Image


EDIT: i was able to reproduce this now. dunno if thats a real bug or something but it is misleading because you can indeed cast the spell in this situation

or probably it is because it is already constricted by the zombie and i dunno the mechanics well

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Post Wednesday, 10th January 2018, 17:08

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

I am enjoying this spell, but it really needs to display the constricted icon on constricted monsters, which it currently isn't.
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Post Saturday, 13th January 2018, 02:19

Re: ZOMBIE HANDS (serious proposal)

This probably shouldn't work on water elementals, but it does.

Fun spell though. Feels broken as hell but I reserve judgment until I've messed with it more on a non-Ash character.

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