Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?


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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 15:24

Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

Roderic wrote:Should all gods be suitable for a 15-runes game ? So is Xom or is it more intended as a comic relief god?



XuaXua suggested this be turned into a thread, and I agree; so I did.

IMO, not all gods should be suitable for a 15 rune game. Here are my reasons why...

Right now if you want to have a god be useful for the entire extended endgame, they have to be able to get piety when the primary foe becomes demons and corpses all but disappear. Having to meet this puts a huge limit on the piety game.

it means that you cannot make a god that is strong early on and then drops off (Fed, and Okra I am looking at you). This cuts things that can be flavorful or noob friendly.

In theory, you can complete the game with no god at all, if so, why is it necessary to make any god viable.

These are three reasons I can think of off the top of my head, and my ideas could be more polished, but I'd like to see what others think. I doubt this is the first time this discussion has come up.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 15:35

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

Personally I don't think so, but only because of the work involved. Some 3 or 4 gods only are strong throughout beginning-middle-end, changing 10- gods is nothing to sneeze at. I think, however, in the future additional gods should all be made to be suitable for 15 rune.

Yet Another Stupid Noob wrote:
Right now if you want to have a god be useful for the entire extended endgame, they have to be able to get piety when the primary foe becomes demons and corpses all but disappear. Having to meet this puts a huge limit on the piety game.


I don't get what the problem here is. Piety-from-corpse/kill/demon is hardly the only way imagineable to do piety :/

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 15:51

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

Also, I think its not the best thing that all(most all) extended endgame monsters are demons (or undead). It may be changed at some point just to increase variety (not to make gods viable, just because demons everywhere are boring), and that change will have effect on end game piety for many gods. That change is not an easy one tough, and will not be done in one step I think.

One thing is if some gods are better for the end game than others, but if a god is completly useless for the whole extended end game, that would be a problem IMHO, and should be changed. I do not think that all gods should be equally strong for the end game, but I do think that all should provide at least something. This would increase the variety of that part of the game (usually the most boring part for me).
Last edited by sanka on Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 15:57, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 15:53

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

That is a great idea to just make corpses rare in hell/pandemonium/tomb rather than nonexistent.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 19:12

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

It's not really a no-brainer since you didn't have to choose that god in the first place - you could instead have gone with a god that was useful throughout the game but maybe not quite as strong in the early game.

It also makes an interesting choice of exactly when to abandon your original god; even the easy-to-abandon gods can still sometimes send wrath that turns a dangerous situation into a deadly one at an unfortunate moment, so you might want take this into account in deciding when to abandon, so you can make sure the god is mollified before you go somewhere like Hell. (OK, so at the moment it is too easy to just wait out wrath in Temple, but I think there are plans to change this if it has not already been done in Trunk.)

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 22:02

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

Ideally, all deities (except possibly Xom) should be reasonably competitive for 15 Rune games. There is a place for deities like Jiyva, who are not terribly good to start out with but become extremely useful under certain circumstances, but I don't really see a permanent place for deities that are useful for a little while but can then be discarded like rubbish. Deities are central to Crawl gameplay, and switching should be at least as momentous a decision as, say, retraining from being a necromancy hybrid build to a pure earth elementalist would be. In other words, it should be possible but not default play.

This isn't to say that Yred and Fedhas, etc. are problems that urgently need correction. It's mildly annoying that you're very nearly forced to switch from them partway through the endgame, but ultimately very few players see that part of the game anyway so there's no real need to rush into fixing the problem.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 22:34

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

I think easier switching would greatly improve crawl. More decisions, cooler decisions. It worked for Desktop Dungeons (yes, I know it's a different kind of game, I can elaborate if anyone cares, and I'm not talking about the freeware version but about the beta). Of course some gods would have to change if switching was easier.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 22:36

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

galefury: I care.
There are long-standing plans to change wraths. First, wrath should depend on service (e.g. maximal piety reached or use of powers or something like that). Secondly, some gods need harder and other gods need milder wrath.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 23:15

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

Galefury wrote:I think easier switching would greatly improve crawl. More decisions, cooler decisions. It worked for Desktop Dungeons (yes, I know it's a different kind of game, I can elaborate if anyone cares, and I'm not talking about the freeware version but about the beta). Of course some gods would have to change if switching was easier.


Easier switching, fine. Switching from Yred to TSO because there's literally no downside is not so good. A decision is not really interesting or cool if you're giving up something not-useful for something useful. That's just a routine upgrade. In an ideal Crawl, switching deities should always be a tempting option, but never obviously the best option for every case. You should never be able to start in D1 with a plan to switch from Yred to TSO and be absolutely confident that your plan will still be optimal 27 floors later.

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Post Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 23:23

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

It's a sort of temporary solution, though. Considering your example, that it's better to have easy Yred wrath to allow switching than to have people never choose yred in a 15 rune at all. At the same time, nobody should have the easy early game berserkers have and an easy late game, so Trog's wrath needs to be tougher thasn yreds.

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Post Thursday, 24th November 2011, 00:49

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

Okay, I'll explain how making god switching much easier awesomely affected Desktop Dungeons. First off, a bit about Desktop Dungeons and gods in DD. The easiest way to see how it works would be to play DD: html5 browser version that took two tries to load for me or PC/Mac download. For the ones who would rather read about it: DD is like a really short roguelike in theory and has many of the same design elements (random level generation, permadeath) and gameplay consequences of this design (you adapt to what the RNG gives you, most decisions are based on extremely limited information, you learn how to win somewhat reliably by dying many times), but because of the short duration and limited randomness after level generation plays more like a puzzle game in practice (you look for a solution to the problem the game gives you, sometimes thinking many steps ahead).

You pick a race, class and dungeon type (roughly equivalent to a branch). The single fairly small dungeon level is randomly generated and populated with random enemies (of a fixed level distribution). There are also several shops that sell a random item each, gold, stat increasing powerups, potions, spell glyphs, and three altars. The altars belong to three (of about ten possible) randomly chosen gods. This is where the randomness mostly stops. You do fixed damage, the enemies do fixed damage, attack order is fixed. Movement is free, enemies don't move. Exploration regenerates health and mana (this is awesome). You need to find the boss, get strong enough to beat it (killing higher leveled enemies gives bonus exp, but might require spending resources), and then kill the boss by using the power and resources you managed to accumulate. This often requires a fairly elaborate battle plan, usually including leveling up mid-fight to heal.

Now, gods. When you find an altar you can start worshiping the corresponding god. You then gain or lose piety for certain actions (starting piety may depend on prior actions), which you can trade for boons at the altar. Which god you worship usually significantly changes how you play, and you don't know which gods will spawn and when you will find them. So far so good. This is where the freeware and the beta (available in your browser via Unity by preordering the full game) diverge. In the freeware you can only switch between certain gods, and even then the cost is very prohibitive (abandoning is impossible). In the beta you can switch from any god to any other spawned god by spending half your piety (having at least half the maximum piety is required to switch), keeping any permanent boons you got. No wrath on switching, just a moderate piety cost. Also the beta gods are much better designed than the ones in the freeware, mostly appealing to a broad range of playstyles while still significantly changing how you play (much like in crawl). There are some other changes, including some more pre-level choices. For simplicity's sake lets just say finding altars is much easier in the beta because their locations are revealed when you start the game (but not the god).


Now how did this affect the game?

In the freeware version you choose a god, often before even knowing what boss you have to fight, what spells and items are on the map, and what kinds of high level monsters spawned. You are then stuck with it, and have to make the most of what you got, in true roguelike tradition. Combined with the not so great god design this leads to often not worshiping a god at all, because you might find the altars fairly late, a bad choice is likely to cost you the game, and when you can actually make an informed decision (all three altars and the level boss known) it's usually too late. This makes the game less interesting. Once you are experienced enough to know the full scope of how a god can help and hurt your game, worshiping or not worshiping in a given situation is fairly straightforward, and that's usually the only god-related decision you get to make. Boon choice is mostly a no-brainer due to the not so great god design, and switching is usually a horrible idea.

In the beta step one is to get to the nearest altar (remember, you know the altar locations. Also remember that unexplored tiles are a valuable resource). If there is any benefit to worshiping the god you found (likely), you do it. Unless the other altars are close. Or unless you would prefer to switch to that god later in the game. Once you started worshiping, you proceed to milk the god as much as possible, try to reveal the other altars and the boss, and start planning if and to what god you want to switch. This yet again changes how you play, because now not only do you need to maximize the benefit from the current god, but also from the next one (if your planned switch likes killing undead you don't want to kill them now). At the opportune moment you switch. This is often just before or even during the boss fight, and generally an integral part of the battle plan. You might want some of the boons of the new god, or a conduct of your current god might prohibit accessing part of your resources. Hell, maybe the current god just outlived its usefulness and even a small benefit is better than none. Once I learned how to play the beta version well I probably switched gods in 2/3 of my games. I even had a few games where I used all three available gods.

In the beta the decision which god to worship is a lot less momentous, a bad first god choice is unlikely to cost you the game on its own. But in return there are lots of smaller decisions related to maximizing the usefulness of both the current god and the planned switch (most of these decisions are based on severely limited information of course). Adapting your playstyle to a different god in the middle of the game turned out to be far far more interesting than being stuck with one god (or no god) all game. While much of the other stuff would not translate to crawl very well I think this would. Making switching to a more useful god for doing a single branch feasible would make gods a lot more interesting in my opinion. In a typical three rune game you pick a god once, then adapt your character to that god. Often the decision what god to worship is made before even starting the game. This is a lost opportunity. Switching gods is already the easiest way to adapt (example: Oka --> TSO), the rest of character development is extremely static (skills are static and items are so limited that one of the ones you have is usually best in slot for any branch, except for jewelry). Actually making god switching per branch feasible would of course require a complete overhaul of gods (most wont even get to a useful level of piety in a single branch, and wrath lasts even longer), which would be a huge amount of work.

One way to do this would be drastically reduced wrath duration when switching between gods that are not opposed to each other, and retaining some of the previous piety (about half, degrades over time or with new god piety) if the player switches back. Also some low level powers might need to scale better (with invo or XL for example). One thing that might also be nice is the new god protecting from wrath at a piety cost. And of course the rest of the game would have to be adjusted to work with changing character powers.

Another DD god thing that might be worth discussing is limited god choice per game. Currently every god is guaranteed to be available in crawl, and most of them are guaranteed to be available in the first 10% of the game. Limited gods would be a bit prone to scumming (play to temple) and there would be worse backlash than after the MD removal, but it could be more fun than the status quo. At least limiting the gods available early in the game might be interesting.

Holy shit this got long. Sorry. :(

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Post Thursday, 24th November 2011, 01:08

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

No time for a long reply, only this: when we started adding temple gods, there was the question how to do it. If I recall correctly, there were essenially three different proposals:
(Lemuel) Keep Temple at 12 gods (or even reduce/remove it); gods not present yet may or may not turn up later
(Erik) Increase Temple to always feature all temple gods
(dpeg) Have Temples of random size; guarantee all temple gods by some fixed depth.

As you can see, Erik's and Lemuel's proposals are on the extreme ends of the spectrum and I proposed something in the middle. Restricted gods (as in your or Lemuel's proposal) have appeal, but the outcry was huge just back when discussing this. I spend a lot of time discussing with Erik to even get the current solution in (which works somewhat well, in my opinion). Two reasons why I championed that approach: (a) easy to add new gods without redoing all the temple maps; (b) we can tweak the system by changing the maximal depth for overflow altars. The latter has never happened but could...

I am not sure if we'll ever want to get DD-style tactical god decisions. Crawl is full of tactical decisions and god choice is one of the strategical ones. However, it is a goal to make god switching more interesting (which means easier for some gods).

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Post Thursday, 24th November 2011, 01:13

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

It's been eons since I've played that game, before the beta even existed I think, but I'm not sure that would fit with crawl simply because of length. DD is one level long while crawl is over a hundred. The ability to switch gods without strong wrath would result in some pretty frankenstein type characters, with decks stacked with tomb, having gloorx vloq enslaved, and summoning angels at the same time. Honestly it could be pretty fun if all gods were nerfed to be much less powerful, but we're talking a lot of work here balancing.
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Post Thursday, 24th November 2011, 07:07

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

One thing to do to help this thread along might be to list all gods and their applicable benefits and when they best take place.

I'd do it but I'm working from the phone.
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Post Thursday, 24th November 2011, 12:42

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

About restricted god choice:

I think guaranteeing that all altars will turn up at some point is good, but not having all of them turn up so early might be even nicer. I think it's great how overflow altars can screw with the often pre-determined god decision. Finding a highly suitable god very early is often enough to get me to change my decision. Not finding the god I want early is usually not enough on its own, because I can just wait, and the "right" altar (or the temple containing it) might always turn up on the next level. Only when I find the temple and it doesn't have the god I want I really think about worshiping someone else.

I think this is really a matter of how far you want to take the roguelike formula. There are few things you can rely on in crawl. Your race and background, and that any temple god will turn up in the first few levels of D (plus a bunch of dungeon generation stuff like guaranteed branches and the branch entrance ranges, plus a bunch of other stuff that I forgot). Also a lot of things are nearly guaranteed, for example finding melee weapons of every skill type within the first few dungeon levels. For everything else you need to wait and see what the RNG gives you, then adapt. So randomly restricting the available early gods would be almost at the same level as randomly restricting the available backgrounds. I can definitely see why people wouldn't want that. I think it would work nicely if available gods had been restricted from the beginning, but changing it at this point would probably be unwise.


About easier god switching:

Crawl has a lot of tactical choices and a lot of strategical choices. And these are very clearly separated. I think this is a lost opportunity. There are very few ways to adapt to the current branch: tactical decisions are at a lower level, strategical ones at a higher level. Of course this clear separation has value on its own: there is no easy way to close the gap if the strategical choices you make are not good for a particular branch. You have to make up for it by making the best of what you have and spending some extra resources. The problem is, crawl is big enough for players to usually be able to avoid this problematic branch (or branch end) long enough to trivialize it. Some measures for forcing confrontation with difficult situations have been discussed (rune lock), and much of the opposition to such ideas is based on the fact that actually dealing with such situations if strategic decisions and luck were not right is currently quite hard (cf. the rune lock related discussion about most lair branches being poison based, especially when including spider). I think having some middle ground would be good, others may think differently.


About listing which gods do what well when: I tried doing that for the DD beta once. It's a horrible idea and will melt the brain of whoever attempts to do the topic justice. A cursory look is easy enough, but whatever you write, there are millions of exceptions. Yay for identifying and calling out problematic gods, but actually analyzing all of them (not just the ones that seem problematic) in detail and writing it down is very hard and probably fairly useless. Even just organizing the results of some hard thinking about gods in a consistent and clear way is already quite difficult.
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Post Saturday, 26th November 2011, 20:40

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

I wrote a guide for the gods, which is downloadable from this thread, and it includes pros and cons for them all. It doesn't say "this god is for early game, this one is for late" and so on, but it gives some generalizations. Personally though, if I were to say where each god is useful, it'd be the following list. For reference, "early" means pre-rune, mid means lower dungeon/able to get runes, late means post 3-rune/Zot/extended.

Ashenzari: Mid/Late (You'll want to frequently upgrade your gear early on)
Beogh: Early/Mid (Maybe on Early. Orcs are good followers, but they lose steam later on)
Chei: Mid/Late (Gotta build piety and find good stuff for ponderous to be useful)
Elyvilon: Early/Mid/Late (Pacify early threats, great heals and buffs for later)
Fedhas: Mid (Lack of fruit early, lack of piety late, and plants lose steam)
Jiyva: Mid/Late (More so late. Once you have some decent stuff and plenty of junk around, as well as bad mutations to ditch, then Jiyva becomes useful)
Kiku: Early/Mid (Once he gives you Necronomincon or Pain Brand, he doesn't do a whole lot. Also, no piety in Tomb and Crypt)
Lugonu: Mid (Not too useful to a lowbie, dangerous even. No piety for demons.)
Makhleb: Early/Mid (Unpredictable abilities that diminish in usefulness. Healing for kills can come from other gods.))
Nemelex: Early/Mid/Late (With careful use and manipulation, decks are just that handy)
Okawaru: Early/Mid (Decent abilities, but you mostly want him for his free junk)
Sif Muna: Early/Mid (Staff of Channeling can trivilialy replace her main draw after you got the spells you want)
TSO: Mid/Late (Or just late if you kill Crypt before swapping. Piety is a PITA pre-Crypt to get and TSO's benefits primarily help against late game threats)
Trog: Early/Mid (Lack of magic really starts to hurt later and BIA, while strong, lose a bit of steam later.)
Vehumet: Early/Mid (Moreso Mid. Once he gives you his books and you can cast the spells reliably without his boosts, all Vehumet gives is mana for kills, which, while helpful, isn't a big deal and can be found elsewhere as well as a small boost to range.)
Xom: Whenever he feels like it. ('Nough said)
Yred: Early/Mid (Piety is a PITA to get in the late game.)
Zin: Early/Mid/Late (Piety is a bit of a PITA early on, but Recite pwns Orcs who make up a significant chunk of the early game threat. Later on gold is plentiful for piety and he has some very nice abilities)


Keep in mind, these are all just my opinions. Pretty much every god is useful in the mid-game, which is the largest chunk for most players. Fedhas, Kiku, Lugonu, and Yred all have piety issues that make them very difficult to worship in the late game. Beogh, Fedhas, Makhleb, Oka, Sif, Trog, and Vehumet start to lose steam as the game goes on, but are all pretty playable in the later game. They're not the best options, but they work (except Fedhas who has the piety issue too). Ash, Chei, and TSO have conducts that make the early game a bit rougher without much benefit in return. Lugonu's abilities, while powerful, are can be just downright dangerous and potentially fatal to a lowbie follower.

Personally, I think the biggest priority would be to tweak the piety/conduct gains of Fedhas, Kiku, Lugonu, and Yred so they can maintain piety much better in the late game. The gods with early-game conduct piety issues isn't as big of a deal because they just suffer from lower piety gain, not general piety loss. Balancing the abilities of all the gods not useful in early or late would be the trickier part and less important since all the gods have some usefulness everywhere with their skills. Some excel in some areas better than others, but gods like Trog and Vehumet are still perfectly feasible to follow late game.
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Post Saturday, 26th November 2011, 22:41

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

Have to say I disagree about Kiku - I think she's useful right up to the post-endgame.

Her protection from death-curses effectively neutralises one of the worst effects of Tomb, torment resistance is pretty nice if you don't want to use Necromutation, and infinite supply of corpses with Sublimation of Blood is one of the better ways to regain MP quickly in Pan/Hell.

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Post Wednesday, 30th November 2011, 07:42

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

My thoughts on this:

1) Explicitly intending for a god to become worthless in the endgame strikes me as poor design (Xom excluded). This could probably be contested.

2) However, if a god is strong and interesting in the main game, but something inherent in their design hurts them in the postgame that can't be resolved without detracting from what made them good in the first place, it's probably fine to leave them as-is. (Trog is probably the best example of this.)

3) But some gods (Yredelemnul and Fedhas especially) totally lose all postgame viability purely because all enemies are demons and demons are not living and don't leave corpses (making piety impossible to get and/or abilities impossible to use). Some species and other playstyles are affected by this as well, and it seems entirely arbitrary. They'd be totally fine (or at least usable) in the endgame if it wasn't for this one very specific thing. In what sense would the game be worse off if most demons killed inside the hells counted as living things and left corpses (probably rotten, degenerative, or otherwise inedible for most species other than ghouls and vampires, to preserve the current hunger balance)?

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Post Thursday, 1st December 2011, 12:36

Re: Should all gods be suitable for a 15 rune game?

@Sjohara: I totally agree with 1 & 2 plus most of 3 but Demons should not leave corpses, angelic beings too.

About the two gods most people are talking about, Yred and Fedhas:

Fedhas imho should at least give piety for destroying the undead, since he doesn't allow worshippers of this kind and is strongly opposed to them. I know you can pray to destroy rotting ones anyway, but the rest should give piety when vanquished, since they're "unnatural".
About Yred, I'm not sure. He does absolutely love it when you kill angelics. Naturally it would be fitting If there was a Holies Branch. Heaven. Or something. But that's not the case. So I'm not sure at all. Maybe give piety for demon kills. He only loves the undead, doesn't he?
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