Undead Necromancers


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Shoals Surfer

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Post Friday, 12th February 2021, 22:44

Undead Necromancers

With the removal of most evocation-based methods of MP recovery, their inability to memorize Sublimation of Blood, the now short-lived duration of necromantic ally spells all but necessitating worship of Kiku, and Kiku's lack of an MP recovery feature, undead necromancers are in a very bad spot right now regarding MP recovery, essentially requiring excessively cautious and tedious luring tactics, retreating to off-branches like the Temple to recover MP (so as to minimize impact on the Zot clock). This is especially frustrating given that Mummies seem to be intended as the go-to species choice for would be necromancers, considering their spellpower bonus.

There are a few ways this experience could be improved, but perhaps the simplest and most focused would be to give Kiku a special MP recovery ability just for undead worshipers. This could be flavored as Kiku especially appreciating undead worshipers.

A simple approach would be to add an MP recovery mutation to the player upon joining, and remove it upon abandoning. But, there are certainly more interesting possibilities. Mainly, I just want to outline the problem and encourage some brainstorming about how best to handle it.

Abyss Ambulator

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Post Saturday, 13th February 2021, 12:17

Re: Undead Necromancers

Just allow undead to cast Sublimation of Blood. There's no real gameplay reason why they shouldn't be able to; I guess it would be a buff to Necromutation. The name could be changed to Sublimation of Flesh or something if undead aren't meant to have blood.

Zot Zealot

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Post Saturday, 13th February 2021, 14:08

Re: Undead Necromancers

I am not convinced that MP recovery is a real issue outside of ziggurats.

Even if sublimation of blood would be some kind of requirement, the fact that undeads are not able to cast it then would be an actually interesting limitation and differentiation between undead and non-undeaad, similarly to formicids not able to blink.

Kiku is still a good god (altough she is not at the very top anymore, but mostly because other, even stronger gods had been added).

The necromancy boost was never very important for mummies. They can not cast the strongest top necromancy spells that makes the school so strong in the extended game. Killing everything with Kiku's corpse delivery was available to everyone, it did not have a special appeal to mummies, except that mummies, being so weak, tend to choose the strongest option, which used to be kiku, but nowadays I think it is gozag.

I think that necromancy was not a good choice for mummies beacuse of the aptitude difference (does not matter much) or the spellpower boost (yes, agony is somewhat stronger with it, but thats it), but simply because necromancer was one of the strongest background for them (since they can not berserk). That's why ice elementalist is also a good choice: it is again a very strong background, and mummies are weak, so they need a strong background more.

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duvessa, nago

Shoals Surfer

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Post Saturday, 13th February 2021, 21:59

Re: Undead Necromancers

Let me clarify that when I use the term "necromancer", I'm not referring to a melee dude that eventually picks up some high-level Necromancy magic for use in emergencies. I'm referring to a magic-oriented character that uses Necromancy spells as their primary means of dealing with enemies.

For Kiku worshipers that kill 90% of stuff with melee attacks and 10% with magic, MP recovery is not an issue.
For Kiku worshipers that kill 50% of stuff with melee attacks and 50% with magic, MP recovery is occasionally an issue.
For Kiku worshipers that kill 10% of stuff with melee attacks and 90% with magic, MP recovery is frequently an issue.

I know some players will say, "then just kill 90% of stuff with melee attacks, problem solved", but that's missing the point. A lot of crawl's replay value comes from the wide variety of approaches it allows, but when some of those approaches require or at least strongly favor slow, tedious, overly cautious gameplay, that steers players away from those approaches, which decreases replay value. I realize that there are players who just want to find the most efficient and reliable way to repeatedly win, and that's fine. But, realize that are also players whose motivation is to enjoy a wide variety of gameplay experiences. Crawl is a great game because it appeals to Timmy, Johnny, and Spike (although it can be extremely frustrating for Johnny at times, particularly when he gets his heart set on a build that involves an unrandart or a specific pair of demonspawn mutations).

And yeah, some zones it's easier/safer to retreat to safety and recover MP than others (I would add the Abyss and Hell to the list of places where it's difficult to rest safely, and to a lesser extent Tomb), but I'm not even talking about places where resting isn't practical (though I probably should be), but just the fact that when a primary spellcaster's MP gets low, it's dangerous to encounter wanderring monsters which incentivizes the player to retreat back to the previous floor, and when this happens too often, it starts to feel really tedious and boring. Also, being penalized for resting by losing access to divine perks through time-based piety loss is not fun, especially when a piety-consuming god ability is a core part of a character build.

But really, the fact that the other 2 magic-oriented gods provide MP recovery, and Kiku does not but used to in the form of providing corpses that could be used to power Sublimation of Blood, should illustrate that a means of MP recovery is an important part of a magic-oriented character's toolkit.

Spellpower, I think, is probably one of the most underrated stats in the game. Most spells benefit from it significantly, including Necromancy spells. For Sublimation of Blood in particular, spellpower makes the difference between a useless, suicidal spell, and a valuable, efficient MP recovery tool. And while I agree that spellpower is not as critical for Necromancy in general as it is for Summoning in general, it's still important for many Necro spells and beneficial for all of them (although the wiki doesn't reflect this). A necromancer, as I'm using the term, would be ill-advised to neglect it.

I'm by no means suggesting that Kiku is a bad god. After all, most species can use Sublimation of Blood to recover MP, and some of them (certain Demonspawn, Trolls) are actually quite good at it. BTW, I find it kind of hilarious that Trolls make top-tier endgame Necromancers, albeit with stat-shuffling help from Jiyva. I just wish undead necromancers were't so awful by comparison.

While I agree that undead's inability to cast Sublimation of Blood is an interesting distinction, I question the value of that distinction if it just drives players away from using Necromancy as undead species. Furthermore, they would be even more distinct if Kiku provided them with an exclusive MP recovery mechanic. Although, thinking through it further, I'm not sure that's such a good idea, as if it's too good, it might make players feel obligated to play undead if they want to be a necromancer. It could be tricky to balance so that both undead and living species feel like viable choices, so maybe Jeremiah's suggestion is for the best.

Although, another possibility is to tweak how Sublimation of Blood works for undead, independent of Kiku. Instead of taking HP damage, maybe they could suffer HP drain (at a lower ratio, of course)... similar to taking ability damage instead of mutating. Seems like it would be easier to tune, at least.
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Crypt Cleanser

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Post Sunday, 14th February 2021, 08:52

Re: Undead Necromancers

There's always Vehumet for MP recovery, and that works for any character.
Maɟaŋ

Shoals Surfer

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Post Sunday, 14th February 2021, 10:52

Re: Undead Necromancers

A necromancer without the ability to receive corpses in dangerous encounters is at a serious disadvantage. If necromancers feel so compelled to avoid Kiku in favor of Vehumet in order to maintain their MP levels that they're willing to accept that disadvantage, that suggests a serious problem. MP recovery is all they'll get out of Vehumet, and it completely undermines Kiku's reason for being. The same for Sif Muna, who seems the more sensible choice as she'll (eventually) provide the spells the player would have gotten from Kiku, albeit to get respectable MP from her requires significant investment in Invocations.

Shoals Surfer

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Post Sunday, 21st February 2021, 05:18

Re: Undead Necromancers

Okay, vampires can already use Sublimation of Blood while Alive, and if they got a proper rank of Regen+ instead of their paltry 1/5 imitation, there would actually be a reason to use Alive status past D:1.

And ghouls can probably be ignored, because between their naturally abysmal Int and the particular difficulty of using Jiyva to adjust their stats while deteriorating from its mutation gifts, they have little reason to cast spells at all, aside from Blink.

So that just leaves mummies, who should really just have some kind of innate MP recovery mechanism, especially considering they can't even drink potions of magic. If this is tied to kills, it could be flavored as a death curse, e.g. something like Powered by Death but for MP. This would give them more flexibility in god choice.

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petercordia

Zot Zealot

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Post Sunday, 21st February 2021, 13:05

Re: Undead Necromancers

I have a hard time understanding your position - it is a little bit unclear what would you think would be beneficial for the game. It seems that you have a special character in your mind (MuNe who kills most enemies by necromancy spells) and you could not build it?

1.) You says that there should be a viable build in crawl: a necromancer who kills most (90%) of monsters by necro spells. Regardless of whether it is possible now or not, I do not understand why it would be a good design goal in itself.

2.) It is especially strange since there are a large number of monsters that are immune to damaging necro spells, thus you could only achieve the above goal by ally spells. But there is an other magic school which lets you kill anybody with allies, so it would sound better to make necro allies weaker (to pronounce summoning allies more). So I do not understand why stronger skeletons and zombies (by which I mean more available ones, that can be used more freely like in the old times) would be a good design goal. (Not to mention that I think you can kill anything by the high level necromancy ally spells like haunt, simlacrum, infestation, so for me your statements does not even sound true. You do not even need that much MP for them: they are extremly MP efficient!). An other thing that makes a strong argument against such a build is the existence of the pain brand. Necromancy is about the only school which directly encourages you to melee! (EDIT: I forgot transmutations of course, sorry. So necromancy is the second school encouraging you directly to learn melee.)

3.) It is even more questionable that the above goal should be available to undead. So assume it is available to others, but not undead - then why it is a problem? Isn't it better to differentiate races?

4.) You seem to connect the whole thing with the tediousness of MP management. I honestly do not understand the connection, especially with sublimation of blood. If managing MP without sublimation of blood is tedious, then it is tedious with it. Because it costs HP, therefore if you can regain your MP without it, it is often otpimal to do so. So the problem is not the lack of sublimation of blood, but the MP management mechanics. And it affects all (primary) spellcasters, not just mummy necromancers.

In other words, magic potions and sublimation of blood are more of an emergency mp restoring mechanics to me, therefore they do not really affect normal MP recovery, so I find it strange to connect them to the tediousness of MP recovery.

5.) Regarding mummies: I always thought they are supposed to be a challenge race. So it sounds a little bit strange to pick up one (in my opinion very mild) drawback and try to mitigate that. Not able to drink magic potions sounds really minor compared to not able to drink haste potions or cure confusion with curing potions. I, for example, often whished mummies to have some (probably stat draining) ability to get rid of confusion, because it is so annoying somtimes to play around tarantella's and some confuse casting monsters. The lack of haste if you do not go Gozag makes them exceptionally week in the second part of the game, which is much more visible to me when I choose Kiku than not being able to cast sublimation of blood.

Edit: To be clear, I think that mp recovering abilities would not make mummies god choice more flexible. Thy are strongly encouraged to go with Gozag, regardless of their background, since this is the only way for them to get haste. (And Gozag is strong anyway.)

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Shoals Surfer

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Post Sunday, 21st February 2021, 17:18

Re: Undead Necromancers

That's not quite right. A mummy necromancer build as I'm describing can work in the current game version, it's just painfully tedious in general and especially so in certain extended areas unless you get very lucky to have Wucad Mu generated or use a hand-picked seed to remove luck as a factor (not a fun choice IMO, as playing the same dungeon layout repeatedly is much less interesting). I actually think Necromancy is one of the magic schools better suited for a spell oriented character (like, 3rd best) because it has options to deal with enemies immune to negative energy, but most of them are dependent on available corpses, which is why Kiku is important to this niche.

1) As I mentioned earlier, supporting a wider variety of builds improves replay value. Just imagine if there were no spells, the only species was minotaur, the only god was Trog, the only background was berserker, and the only weapon type was axe. Would you want to spend as much time playing that hypothetical minimalist version of Crawl? I'm guessing not, but because there are more options to choose from, there's more replay value. So, following that pattern, by supporting more options, we get more replay value. Make sense?

2) Summoning magic has the advantage of giving you more control over what kinds of allies you get, letting you tailor your forces to the needs of each situation. This is a big advantage over necromancy allies. I'm not advocating for an upgrade to the Necromancy school; I'm mainly just suggesting to bring mummy up to par with most other species in terms of efficiency. Even with MP recovery, players won't be able to spawn substantially more undead allies, because Kiku's corpse delivery is still gated by piety. What they would be able to do is spend fewer turns tediously waiting around between fights for their MP to recover.

Most spell schools actually support meleeing to some degree: Air Magic, Conjurations, Earth Magic, Fire Magic, Ice Magic, Necromancy, and Poison all feature weapons that allow magic-oriented characters to effectively melee many enemies, and both Transmutation and Hexes are fundamentally schools designed for hybrid play... arguably Translocations as well, given the Warper background is a hybrid. That just leaves Summonings, players are significantly penalized for using summoned allies to kill things, which tends to encourage summoners to melee even though they get no support for doing so.

3) It's not necessary that every species work well with every background. What makes the situation really bad is that mummy is specifically geared towards necromancers, from the days when they actually could recover MP efficiently by sublimating chunks and hungerlessly evoking staves of channeling. But, this will attract new players to try mummy necromancers, and they'll have a miserable experience and, to some degree, be soured on Crawl as a result. Therefore, there should either be some kind of adjustment to allow them to recover MP while worshiping Kiku (as you pointed out the necessity of ally spells) or their necromancy enhancers should be removed and their necromancy aptitude lowered.

4) Sublimation of Blood, at high spellpower, provides an option to balance your HP and MP (admittedly less so with the removal of Regeneration, but recently restored with improvement of Regen+ gear). Basically, if your HP is mostly full and your MP is mostly empty, you can use Sublimation of Blood to balance the time remaining for both to sufficiently recover and reduce your overall wait time. Obviously I wouldn't suggest using it when your HP would take longer to naturally recover than your MP, but magic-oriented characters normally spend MP faster than they spend HP, and thus Sublimation of Blood tends to be helpful to their recover more often than characters who spend most of their time on the front line.

Even in terms of an emergency MP recovery tool, the alternative is to flee, rest, and reengage, picking off some enemies and gradually wearing the enemies down to levels that your MP reserves are sufficient to handle.

Moreover, resting tends to be frequently interrupted in some areas (Abyss, Hell), and if those interruptions cost you resources, that means more waiting, which means more interruptions, which is more tedious.

5) I'm not suggesting to take the challenge out of mummies, I'm suggesting to reduce the tedium involved. The MP recovery ability doesn't need to have a strong immediate impact (in fact, I think it better that it not, considering how much less fun mummy necros were to play when I used wizard mode to massively improve their HP and MP recovery). It can provide a small benefit during the fight and have a lingering benefit to help with recovery afterward.

P.S. Yes, Gozag is good, and yes, vine stalkers and especially mummies have more incentive to worship him than most species. Also, mummies have more incentive than most to worship Ashenzari, both for clarity and to compensate for their bad aptitudes. I'm not suggesting that Kiku should be the top choice for mummies, or even one of the strongest choices. I just wish it weren't such an annoying choice.

Abyss Ambulator

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Post Friday, 26th February 2021, 20:39

Re: Undead Necromancers

I think that, if anything, Kiku should give undead followers protection from Dispel Undead, to parallel the protection from torment that living followers get.

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andrew, Nekoatl

Blades Runner

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Post Friday, 12th March 2021, 04:24

Re: Undead Necromancers

Mana recovery is not high on their worries IMO. Necro as a school is in a bad place after it has been smashed by the nerf bat a few times. BVC is still a great spell despite its nerfs, if you can get it. Haunt is a reliable means of killing, but is level 7 dual school. High level necro spells are broadly excellent for non-undead, but also won't come online until after S branches typically. Though I will push back on infestation/simulacrum being reliable kill spells; they are great if you get rolling on a floor, but that's not consistently available.

Derived undead is short lived enough that even if you support it and sustain regen to push floors quickly, the necro starting book isn't getting it done with those. Against living stuff you can use vampiric draining if you push spellpower, though over-relying on this will leave you with some nasty encounters/areas that you tend not to see with picks like En, Wz, AE, EE, or even VM.

Some spell school is going to be the worst, that's just how things are. I do think some of the necro downsides could be eased, given the tradeoff for using them isn't appealing. Though I could see good-aligned gods still hating it obviously.

How does mana regen amulet function as an option? Should this be competitive with new HP regen amulet? MP +9 gear is big too, lets you do more immediately but also improves regeneration of mana. I notice a big difference going around slamming a macro for iron shot with a couple MP +9 items vs not having it. Won't help you with big zigs using necro obviously, but will for most of the game since you can do more vampiric draining early/mid, more BVC, and more haunt + BVC late.

Mines Malingerer

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Joined: Wednesday, 15th November 2017, 07:15

Post Sunday, 23rd May 2021, 19:39

Re: Undead Necromancers

no more imba combo: Gozag + necromutation + energy staff + vile clutch + shatter + occasional tornado in ZIGG runs.
Any ideas on how to make ZIGGs without sifmuna or vehemut? (i only know of Gozag)

now at 0.26:
Gozag Zigg = pray for random mana potion $$.
Wucad staff with 27evo is like 25-50% at most.
Majin staff is obsolete, it deals less damage/tick then Wucad in terms of constant need of casting spells (it is just better to cast 6-7 shatters with Wucad, then 3-4 with Majin).

much nerf to such builds just because someone said: "hey theres plenty of food. lets remove food... oh and btw now energy staff should be also removed, as we got no food"
But it is a interesting experiment, i made to Zigg couple of times with gozag and it is perfectly doable. Just drink some $$ more then before. But i miss old energy staff "v" spam on easier floors.

How to regen MP as necro? When you really need to regen MP or die? Just find a way and be more carefull.

So my conclusion is:
It is perfectly doable, just it takes more time and need more carefull play. (Gozag, and no idea about other gods)

Lair Larrikin

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Post Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 04:42

Re: Undead Necromancers

I recently completed a single ziggurat with a mummy necromancer of Qazlal. Granted, I used a lot of melee, invocations, and evocations. But necromancy (namely, infestation, death channel, and bvc) was significant parts of my arsenal.
Zot clock is not an issue. Mana is an issue, since you cannot drink potions of magic and ambrosia as a mummy, but you can get around mana problems by worshiping Sif Muna, Vehumet, Ru, or perhaps to some small extent Jiyva, Gozag, TSO. I managed with Qazlal, since you really only have to cast Death channel once per floor, and infestation a few times, and then use something (like the OP ignition) to start the undead tide.

Mines Malingerer

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Joined: Wednesday, 15th November 2017, 07:15

Post Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 19:09

Re: Undead Necromancers

I would love to see you doing that live :(
How could a mummy Qazlal survive angel pan ghost floors?
I guess you could just run with deaths door or smt?
But on Zig +5 at like Zigg 20+ when every square is monster, how do you run?

Shoals Surfer

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

Post Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 09:25

Re: Undead Necromancers

Sure, worship Gozag. There's no way that could negatively impact the necromancer gameplay experience.... It's not like corpses are relevant for necromancers, right?

Mines Malingerer

Posts: 33

Joined: Wednesday, 15th November 2017, 07:15

Post Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 22:18

Re: Undead Necromancers

I cannot say anything. i do not play with summons. IMO this game is not summon friendly, i treat them as cannon fooder when things get dirty to get some time/ escape. It gets so frustrating for me to count on them dealing damage. also i am bind to not using certain AOE spells i love. and if i do, it irritates me to press Y each time i try.

Not sure zombies/summons are of any use versus Ghosts, Angels, Pans. To me they disappear the moment i create them, like "where did they go?" At most it allowed me to buy 1 or maybe 2 turns as distraction.

Do you have any solution for necromancers other then gozag?

Shoals Surfer

Posts: 306

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

Post Thursday, 27th May 2021, 07:27

Re: Undead Necromancers

I agree Crawl is not summoner friendly... the AI is clunky, and there is even a 50% penalty on experience earned through summons, which is frustrating because summoning and animating dead are my favorite ways to play tactical fantasy games. Still, the Animate spells can be useful for dealing with enemies that are immune to your other spells, or for shouldering part of the burden of taking down strong enemies. Their lifespan is quite short, but at higher spell power they generally last the duration of a fight or until they are killed (I include the Animate spells among those that are useless at lower spell power, alongside Sublimation of Blood). They are also a weaker than the living versions of the monsters, so it takes a lot of them to bring down especially strong enemies on their own, and in general it's better to treat them as tools to bear part of the load in difficult fights rather than to rely on them as the primary means of damage dealing whenever possible.

Because the duration on these spells is so short, it's necessary to wait until an enemy worth spending corpses on is in range of those corpses, then Animate. The normal and tedious way to do this is lure enemies to an open area near your escape stairs to get the corpses to fall in the same general area so they can all be animated at once if you encounter an enemy that's too dangerous to fight with just your other spells. Sometimes this is not possible, which is where Kiku's corpse dump ability comes in handy. Also, because corpses decay, it's important to have quick, reliable recovery options to minimize time between fights, like regeneration with Sublimation of Blood. The best species for this is Troll, however building a strong necromancer out of a Troll is such a lengthy and difficult ordeal that pretty much any other species can win the game before a Troll necro starts to get good. Deep elves have too little HP, and Mummies can't even memorize Sublimation of Blood. Demonspawn, therefore, is the best species choice, because of their decent Necromancy aptitude, lack of an HP penalty, and the possibility of gaining useful mutations, though this is unfortunately a crapshoot. Ultimately, there is not a great species choice for necromancers right now.

Blades Runner

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Post Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 06:21

Re: Undead Necromancers

Halve the mana costs of spells for mummies since they are such magical beings. Maybe this should be true of lich-form also.

Give vampires in undead form mana on kill (they suck souls of their victims or something).

Staff of energy was essential to already struggling magic focused builds, but it was tedious to use. I'd like to see racial incentives increased since it seems difficult to find a one-size fits all fix for the situation. There's definitely some kind of mana based problem for undead magic builds currently.

Mines Malingerer

Posts: 33

Joined: Wednesday, 15th November 2017, 07:15

Post Friday, 4th June 2021, 19:39

Re: Undead Necromancers

Yea, staff of energy was kinda common item. I expected it in every longer game.
Evocation at 10+ was all it needed to have mana.

My fav build is gozag caster of some race. With money it gives mana so no problem here.

But There are builds that are essentially obsolete now, as their lategame presence was based around staff of energy.

0.26 is a radical change to a game, with no complementary changes instead.

All one could hear here and there was: "casters > melee"
Probably 0.26 aimed at a direction to equilibrium of two.

Since direction have been shown, we need to post plenty of propositions like above me so game can be developed in that direction without creating unplayable builds (at least in lategame/extended)
I personally like summon mumies, Vampires mana changes.

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