Cranium Rats: A Dlvl-1 Unique


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Halls Hopper

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Post Monday, 7th February 2011, 22:39

Cranium Rats: A Dlvl-1 Unique

Just an idea to make dlvl1 a little more interesting...

Its a "unique" called Cranium Rats. Remember them from Planescape: Torment? The idea is that, individually, these suckers aren't any different than rats, but when they come together as a group, a sort of telepathic collective-consciousness starts to form between them... working together when in a small handful, picking up a few spells when their numbers build to a few dozens, and culminating in a lethally frightening intelligence when they are legion.

In Dungeon Crawl, we'd see the weakest possible form. Together would spawn (preferably in an open area) three cranium rats. When all three are alive, "they" can cast a 1d6 dmg Magic Dart (with the projectile coming form an empty tile, if possible, or maybe such that a random one of them gets the spell on any given turn) and all three have the monster-intelligence of orcs. They still have the same HD and HP as ordinary rats, however. However, as soon as one dies, the last two become no different than ordinary rats. The first rat is worth 5-6 XP and the last two are each worth 1 XP a piece.

In essence, they're a scary enemy for a lvl 1 character, but the best way to neutralize the threat is to bum-rush them and kill one! :o

Spider Stomper

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Post Monday, 7th February 2011, 22:58

Re: Cranium Rats: A Dlvl-1 Unique

Man, Cranium Rats are one of the most messed up things in Planescape (and considering the setting, that's saying a lot). It's a cute idea though, but I think making them just a simple unique kind of diminishes the value, since their main thing is that the more they are the smarter they get. I think they would work a lot better as normal enemies, being harmless alone, but usually appearing in groups from 3 to 10+ and being able to do some really nasty things when they put their heads together.
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Halls Hopper

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Post Monday, 7th February 2011, 23:29

Re: Cranium Rats: A Dlvl-1 Unique

Jenx wrote:Man, Cranium Rats are one of the most messed up things in Planescape (and considering the setting, that's saying a lot). It's a cute idea though, but I think making them just a simple unique kind of diminishes the value, since their main thing is that the more they are the smarter they get. I think they would work a lot better as normal enemies, being harmless alone, but usually appearing in groups from 3 to 10+ and being able to do some really nasty things when they put their heads together.


Well, if its possible, it could go like this: Cranium Rats could appear anywhere from Dlvl 1-Dlvl7, biased heavily to appear on Dlvl 1, and the number of rats that appear is equal to Dvl+2. When more rats are together, they get additional spells, resistances, XP, etc. (rPois to resist meph cloud and evaporate should be available at 6+ rats for sure). Maybe the Cranium Rats only appear on dlvl 7 in 1% of games where Cranium Rats appear, but they should be SCARY if they appear so late...
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Mines Malingerer

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Post Tuesday, 8th February 2011, 00:46

Re: Cranium Rats: A Dlvl-1 Unique

So... Is that like a Rat King kind of thing? A lot of stories with those in (I'm thinking of Alan Moore's stuff mostly) have them with a kind of collective intelligence.

I have played PS:T, it's just so long ago I don't remember much of it.
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Halls Hopper

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Post Tuesday, 8th February 2011, 05:06

Re: Cranium Rats: A Dlvl-1 Unique

Wolfechu wrote:So... Is that like a Rat King kind of thing? A lot of stories with those in (I'm thinking of Alan Moore's stuff mostly) have them with a kind of collective intelligence.

I have played PS:T, it's just so long ago I don't remember much of it.


Something like that, sure, except more telepathic and magical. Rat Kings are probably what inspired Cranium Rats in the original PS:T.

Here's the incremental Cranium Rats fleshed out a little more. As individual rats in the group die off, the group as a whole gets downgraded. The below chart is cumulative; so the group of 3 rats would have orc intelligence and magic dart, for instance, and then when any one of them died, the two remaining would both be left with just orc intelligence to separate them from normal rats. And, in instances where attack spells are involved, more damaging attacks replace the weaker ones. No cantrips. It might be easier to implement if each rat can cast a spell, rather than one big spell for the whole group; damage numbers are designed reflect that.

1 Rat: same as a normal rat (1 XP)
2 Rats: Orc intelligence (2 XP)
3 Rats: 1d5 magic dart. (6 XP)
4 Rats: corona, AC+1 (15 XP)
5 Rats: slow, rPois (30 XP)
6 Rats: throw frost (2d5), AC+1 (50 XP)
7 Rats: Mephetic Cloud, rC+, rF+ (90 XP)
8 Rats: 3+1d7 Smiting, rElec (130 XP)
9 Rats: Cause Fear, AC+1 (200 XP)

So, if the Cranium Rats spawned on dlvl 1, the 3 rats would be a solid threat (a 3d5 magic dart between them, although its doubtful all would use the same attack on the same turn) worth 9 XP total. If Cranium Rats spawned on dlvl 7, the 9 Rats would be terrifying (Cause Fear + hella smiting + meph clouds EVERYWHERE) but worth a total of 524 XP (obviously, that might need to be tweaked), about the same as a unique like Maurice. One would also hope that an adventurer would have some better way to widdle their numbers down quickly by then; Cranium Rats should be balanced such that a character that tries to fight their full strength for more than a few turns should get creamed, and balanced so that's the case for whichever dlvl that they spawn.
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Swamp Slogger

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Post Tuesday, 8th February 2011, 09:49

Re: Cranium Rats: A Dlvl-1 Unique

My ideas about Ratkings in DCSS posted some time ago:

https://crawl.develz.org/tavern/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=3&p=115#p115

Snake Sneak

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Post Tuesday, 8th February 2011, 17:54

Re: Cranium Rats: A Dlvl-1 Unique

I like this idea, but I also like the idea I had of "Ben", a unique rat who's a very powerful spellcaster. Physically, he's a weak rat, but he gets terrifyingly powerful spells like Iron Shot or Poison Arrow. The idea was to exploit the idea of the rare rats that show up in late game that give the player a false sense of security. "Oh look, a puny little ra....AAAAGGHHHH!"

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