Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?


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Temple Termagant

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Post Sunday, 16th December 2018, 01:01

Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

I was just thinking Crawl thoughts earlier today when it hit me that gorgons are one of the few classic fantasy monsters that don't appear at all in the game, and they're a perfect thematic fit for the Snake Pit. My basic idea is that they're humanoid enemies who get auxiliary poison bite attacks (because of their snake hair) and have a petrifying gaze like that of a basilisk, but more powerful. I think the petrifying gaze also fits the Snake Pit's subtheme of messing with movement speeds and having unusual movement speeds (e.g., naga magi and nagarajas moving slowly then suddenly hasting themselves, or guardian serpents suddenly surrounding you with enemies).

Below I have a rough draft of a stat block for what a gorgon might look like, based on the monster entries on the Crawl wiki. The flying flag is a in reference to some traditional accounts of winged gorgons, but isn't essential. As per Greek mythology, gorgons should travel in threes. I've also considered a more powerful variant which I call a gorgon queen, who is a part of some gorgon trios and has additional abilities, such as a spell that summons snakes.

Gorgon stat block (first draft)

HP: 25-52
HD: 8
XP: 412
Speed: 10
AC: 5
EV: 15
MR: 60/70?
Attack 1: 12 (hit: plain)
Attack 2: 6 (bite: poison)
Attack 3: 6 (bite: poison)
Type of Meat: Inedible
Resistances: rPois+
Vulnerabilities: None
Habitat: Land
Intelligence: Human
Uses: Weapons and armour, starting equipment, opens doors
Holiness: Natural
Size: Medium
Type: gorgon, gorgon
Flags: Flying, speaks, warm-blooded

Spells:
Slot 1: Petrify (magical flag)
Last edited by Japicx on Monday, 17th December 2018, 19:33, edited 1 time in total.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Sunday, 16th December 2018, 02:34

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

The stat block you posted is effectively just a slightly bigger basilisk that opens doors, and Snake doesn't even have many doors in it.

Instead, a post-Lair petrifying monster should be fast; make it an S with speed 15. Get rid of the poison attacks, Snake doesn't need any more of those (no, the flavour isn't more important). It also doesn't need equipment.
Alternatively, you could just give Petrify to guardian serpents instead of adding a new monster.

65 is a very strange MR value, why isn't it 60? That's also not how max HP or XP values work.

Temple Termagant

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Post Sunday, 16th December 2018, 02:55

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

A larger basilisk is basically what this is supposed to be. There are other ways it can be made more distinct, like making snakes upon death, or giving them all a unique "Summon Snakes" spell. The human intelligence has at least a few fringe effects besides opening doors, like vulnerability to Bribe Branch or Zin's recitations. Giving Petrify to guardian serpents is an interesting alternative, though I wonder if that doesn't make their power set too broad. A new kind of snake with Petrify sounds fine to me though I can't think of an immediate way to fit it into the Snake Pit flavourfully. The idea of a gorgon can probably be kept as a humanoid, but just one that moves quickly? That way it's still immediately recognizable and clearly snake-themed. Getting rid of the poison is fine too, though I've always seen the Snake Pit as especially committed to the poison theme, so either way is good.

The MR and XP values aren't based on any kind of math; I just chose things that were similar to other Snake Pit monsters. As far as I was able to discern, most monsters have a maximum HP roughly equal to (minimum HP x 2)+2. I don't know if there's anywhere where these things are spelled out more explicitly. Like I said, this is just a first draft.
Last edited by Japicx on Monday, 17th December 2018, 18:54, edited 1 time in total.

Spider Stomper

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Post Sunday, 16th December 2018, 05:00

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

if Snake should get a new petrifying monster, especially a fast one, I'd rather see a petrifying bite that bypasses magic resistance than another petrifying gaze that you render harmless with magic resistance.

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Temple Termagant

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Post Sunday, 16th December 2018, 05:34

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

To be clear, the idea was just to add Gorgons as an enemy. The Snake Pit seems like the most logical place they would be, but they can be in other areas too.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Sunday, 16th December 2018, 07:29

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

Nekoatl wrote:if Snake should get a new petrifying monster, especially a fast one, I'd rather see a petrifying bite that bypasses magic resistance than another petrifying gaze that you render harmless with magic resistance.
Melee status effects are almost never good; they are too easy to avoid. If this is an issue, the solution is to get rid of MR or make the gaze ignore MR, as some other gaze-flavoured attacks already do (paralysis gaze, shining eye malmutate, draining gaze).

Spider Stomper

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Post Monday, 17th December 2018, 02:21

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

It's more that I just think gaze attacks aren't very interesting, and between that and how the existing petrification attacks are ranged, *if* a new one were to be added, melee would make for better variety. Btw, if melee status effects are almost never good because they're too easy to avoid, does that mean that melee attacks are almost never good for the same reason?

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Monday, 17th December 2018, 04:14

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

By the time characters get to Snake they have the means to avoid almost any melee attack if they really want to. To make a melee attack scary after Lair it has to be on a monster that is very fast and reasonably durable and can tear through summons, like harpies, and even then you need to get several of them fighting the player at once (hard to do). Look at how much worse juggernauts work compared to shrikes. So if you want to apply a status to the player, making it ranged and smite-targeted gives you much more freedom with what you do with the rest of the monster; you can safely make it less than speed 20, generate it alone, etc.

Spider Stomper

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Post Monday, 17th December 2018, 05:13

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

Not every threat needs to work against every character build, though. The whole point of having a variety of threats is so that if a character is built to negate some of them, there will still be others that are harder for it to deal with. I do agree with your point about the ranged ability giving more freedom, but I just don't think we need another basilisk.

Besides, even if a character reliably negates the melee-petrify-snake before it can land an attack, if it even occasionally manages to draw in other threats and forces the player to prioritize one over the others, then it still has value. I'm not really sure that Snake would be the best place for such a monster, though.

Temple Termagant

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Post Monday, 17th December 2018, 19:14

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

I think the gaze flavour can still be maintained if it's significantly more powerful than the gaze of a basilisk, but as far as I've been able to figure out, the only way to strengthen a monster's spell-like effects is by increasing its HD and therefore making it stronger in all other ways, which might be fine. For reference, a basilisk has HD 6 and its petrifying gaze has pretty low spell power, but I don't know how much of a spell power difference you get with each point of HD. Maybe the HD could be increased to something in the 10-14 range since 8 isn't dramatically higher than 6?

One point against gorgons being made redundant by basilisks is that gorgons, unlike basilisks, always travel in threes. This means that you have more chances to get petrified, and if you do get petrified, you can quickly be surrounded. A lone basilisk isn't much of a threat even if it does petrify you, but there are never lone gorgons. Besides, it's not that unusual or inelegant to see enemies that are basically just stronger versions of others, like orc warlords vs. orc knights, or black mambas vs. water moccasins vs. adders.

If gorgons wouldn't fit into Snake (which I think they do because of flavour and giving slower nagas a chance to get close to you), where would they fit better?

Shoals Surfer

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Post Monday, 17th December 2018, 21:42

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

Snake, swamp, depths, vaults, and elf could all have some justification, depending on how far you want to reach wrt lore. In terms of just having an enemy type, maybe swamp...though I disagree with the broad view that swamp is materially easier than snake/spider.

Temple Termagant

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Post Monday, 17th December 2018, 22:03

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

Snake seems safe to me solely because if gorgons were added and not in the Snake Pit, there'd probably be complaints :P

Also, while Snake Pit is one of my favourite branches, it could do with a little more variety in its enemies. The strongest common enemies in the Pit, nagarajas, are just stronger versions of naga magi, and the diversity of enemies doesn't really increase as you descend. In the current iteration of the Pit, the only thing that cares about MR is the Teleport Other of naga magi and nagarajas, and being teleported can be helpful almost just as often as it's harmful (though it becomes more of a nuisance when you've snagged the rune and are trying to escape; that might be a good AI change, or Teleport Other could just be removed from magi and nagarajas).

If we're talking about the Snake Pit itself, I think it could greatly benefit from having a wider range of enemies (though not so wide as to detract from the snakes-and-nagas theme) and having more differentiated floors. The Spider Nest and Swamp, for example, are designed pretty well in this regard since they have enemies that are generally not introduced until later (such as emperor scorpions and spark wasps) and have a huge range of rune vaults (like the undead-themed one in the Swamp or the death scarab vault in the Spider Nest). I want the Snake Pit to have the same kind of diversity and sense of discovery rather than just "more big rooms with more nagas".

Shoals Surfer

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Post Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 16:41

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

I see what you mean. Swamp 4 can be pretty diverse with the rune vault, and you even left out ghost moths for spider. Just about everything in snake is "TP other" or constrict risk. Main curveballs are anaconda rush + constrict or guardian serpent running you down + teleporting lots of constrictors in your face. Very punishing to autoexplore but aside from these two there isn't much interesting going on I agree. From that standpoint gorgons would fit snake the best, though the point about them amounting to another MR check overlapping with TP other is still an issue.

I don't like stuff that has little to no counterplay. The floating eyes in slime kind of work because slime levels are relatively small and you can use the "death is the best crowd control" approach to them. Smite-targeted irresistible petrification is the kind of thing that encourages degenerate behavior in exploration patterns/non-autoexplore, since cancellation is not common. If you make it melee it starts to heavily overlap with anoconda constrict in practice, though if gorgons had good MR that would make a difference (anacondas don't).

Temple Termagant

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Post Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 18:02

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

There's a difference in that the MR check for Teleport Other is usually irrelevant, and it's not uncommon to get teleported out of a dangerous situation into safety. I don't think monster AI in Crawl is clever enough to use Teleport Other effectively without adding in a bunch of special cases. A strong Petrify effect would make MR actually matter in Snake while it doesn't now. It would also add in more status effects, since the Snake Pit has pretty much none aside from poison and Virulence, which is relevant only with poison involved.

Shoals Surfer

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Post Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 21:18

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

Constriction is *not* irrelevant as a status!

While TP other can be beneficial, allowing it is usually a misplay as it can also dump you into constriction hell and force burning of multiple consumables to not die. For the most part, players should be routinely avoiding similarly bad situations arising from walking normally. It's a legit threat, even if it's an inconsistent one.

I guess you could go with the HOMM 3 style of "gorgons" and make them something like boosted dream sheep. Even then, knowing you're going to get petrified a lot will make moving through snake a lot less fun, as player will have an overwhelming incentive to not autoexplore and minimize number of enemies on screen for every guaranteed petrification. But if you really feel like an MR check is needed there and isn't already covered by TP other I guess that's something that could be done. It's kind of nice to have one of the first two rune branches not require MR though, as sometimes viable MR legit doesn't show up until after clearing elf 3/some of depths (aka only sources are body armor, so you can only wear one).

Blades Runner

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Post Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 23:41

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

Give naga mages petrify instead of teleport other, increase their hd by 2, rename them "gorgon". Bonus points: give nagarajas petrify instead of teleport other as well.
Remove spell hunger.

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Temple Termagant

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Post Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 02:45

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

Replacing naga magi with gorgons seems good too, though Iskenderun's Mystic Blast doesn't really seem "gorgony" to me. Calling it a gorgon instead of a naga might also mislead players about its movement speed.

Shoals Surfer

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Post Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 16:50

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

I like the idea of the mage swap, but I don't think TP other should be removed completely. It *CAN* cause problems, and it's probably okay if it's not as threatening as everything else if you also have petrify on some enemies. Getting teleported into constriction if you don't manage LoS or have MR is still a threat.

IMB isn't sufficiently threatening or unique to naga mages that dropping it in favor of something else or even nothing on gorgons would be a big loss. The big threats in snake pit are guardian serpent dumping, anaconda run-down constricts, shock serpents, and getting caught in a bad position by sharpshooters such that you can't just walk away (autoexplore is more bad than usual in snake).

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 18:51

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

Monster teleport other has two problems. The first is that you can cancel it by putting on a -Tele item or reading one of your 50 teleport scrolls. This is easily fixed by making it instant.
The other problem is that tactics around it are completely uninteresting, as crate explained here:
crate wrote:On a different note I would suggest that monster abilities that reposition the player are bad gameplay, and this is my more specific problem with crushers.

I find the most interesting part of crawl tactics to be positioning. Positioning is twofold: it is both the location of your character in relation to the other monsters on the floor (both those in-los and those out-of-los and even the monsters that do not exist but you as the player fear might exist), and the location of your character in relation to the dungeon features on the floor. For the majority of enemies in crawl, the player has very nearly absolute control over both of these two factors (yes, enemies move around, but they do so in an entirely predictable manner for the majority of monsters in crawl). Some enemies play with the first factor of positioning: they move monsters around in a non-predictable manner (most commonly a monster moving itself via blink, but also things like blink allies encircling or convoke). I don't have a problem with this, as long as it is not the norm; there is still skill in positioning yourself in a good location with respect to the static dungeon features. Monster dig plays with the second factor, by actively altering the dungeon around the player. I do not like this much personally, but I do not have a game design argument for eliminating it, so I will just say that it is similar in effect to moving monsters around. In either case there are still interesting aspects of positioning that matter for the player.

Forcibly moving the player around destroys both elements of positioning. The player is moved around in relation to the monsters on the level, and additionally the player is moved around with respect to the dungeon features. If we take this to an extreme--monster teleport other, which places you on a completely random space on the floor--then positioning before the attack is literally useless. You have taken what I find the single most interesting tactical element of crawl and completely eliminated it from the game. Monsters blinking the player or octopode crushers moving the player around are obviously not so extreme, but it should be evident how much less control over positioning the player has, and thus how much less interesting positioning becomes. I do not think this is a good thing for monsters to do.
This issue is shared with banishment (although teleport other is at least WAY less annoying than banishment).



Regarding IMB, monster equivalents of player damage spells could use an overhaul in general. Player-monster symmetry isn't the highest priority, and it shouldn't be, but often monster spells behave differently from player spells in ways that are spoilery. In the case of nagas, monster poison arrow does crap damage, barely any more than venom bolt. Any unspoiled player who's used player venom bolt and player poison arrow will expect monster poison arrow to do way more damage than it actually does...and since the damage is randomized they're never going to find out that it's actually a joke.

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 20:18

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

I think this
You have taken what I find the single most interesting tactical element of crawl and completely eliminated it from the game.
is a pretty huge overstatement, if it stems from some monsters having teleport other. Personally, I don't care much about teleport other one way or the other, but overall I find it interesting that some monsters have attacks that change the game somehow. But of course it would be better if it always teleported you near monsters.
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Shoals Surfer

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Post Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 20:23

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

TP other is much more tame per that line of reasoning than any of dispersal/TP/shaft traps. It comes in a predictable location/branch and has several counterplay options (block LoS, have MR), and the enemy that can use it is slow...so in most cases even with relatively poor MR the player can avoid the area on seeing the enemy and come back later. If ALL of that fails, there's still cancellation as a last ditch option, again in contrast to other things that move the player.

If we're going to have stuff that moves the player this is a far more reasonable scenario. The counterplay is there, from multiple avenues...including simply positioning yourself on stairs and going up if they successfully tag TP other on you...or choosing to accept the TP having cleared most of the level. If we're going to have effects that TP the player at all, this one should be the last to go, not the first.

Regarding IMB, monster equivalents of player damage spells could use an overhaul in general. Player-monster symmetry isn't the highest priority, and it shouldn't be, but often monster spells behave differently from player spells in ways that are spoilery


Probably the most straightforward way to solve this is to simply rename the monster versions of the spells to something similar but not identically named to player spell. That way it's obvious that it's technically a different spell. Something like "poison shot" rather than "poison arrow" for example. Now rather than anticipating that it will hurt like a player spell, a new player will know it does something poison-like but won't know exactly what to expect w/o going on the wiki/searching it/trying it with neutral expectations.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 20:30

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

The point is not that there's a lack of counterplay to Teleport Other, the point is that getting hit by it isn't as interesting as getting hit by paralysis or slow or mark or whatever, because your positioning when you got hit doesn't matter.
Perhaps it still has a good enough chance of teleporting you somewhere cool that it's worth keeping in spite of that problem, but it's something to consider.

Shoals Surfer

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Post Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 20:36

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

But it does matter. Both how much of the level you've cleared (prior positioning) and whether or not you're on stairs (current positioning) matter significantly to how much risk TP other brings to the table. Heck, you might even allow it intentionally if in an undesirable position.

You're not going to get many people arguing that it's actually more threatening than paralysis, though I don't consider paralysis especially interesting in most cases either (depends on how many decisions it influences). Even slow might be more threatening...but not in all cases.

Slow actually isn't a bad comp - it dampens the number of squares on the level where player positioning matters (since in many cases you can't safely walk away any more even with otherwise good positioning), and can be extremely threatening in some contexts. Despite that, in most practical cases it doesn't pose serious risk to careful play.
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Lair Larrikin

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Post Thursday, 20th December 2018, 10:20

Re: Gorgons: A New Enemy for the Snake Pit?

Moved my post to Snake Pit thread instead as it is more appropriate there.

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