Vampire rework proposal


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Spider Stomper

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Post Monday, 4th March 2019, 22:36

Vampire rework proposal

Borrowing some of the good ideas from https://crawl.develz.org/tavern/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=25266, here's a proposal to radically rework vampires.

My goals are:
* to preserve the vampire's identity of gaining dynamic intrinsic mutations and utilizing blood as a resource.
* to provide multiple modes of gameplay, each with its own advantages, so that none is strictly superior.
* to make blood management more tactically & strategically interesting.
* to eliminate incentives for tedious gameplay like saving monsters in "blood banks" or deliberately burning nutrition before exploring.

Vampires switch between 3 "forms" via innate abilities, at the cost of exhaustion. These are not transmutations, just lists of innate mutations. At Bloodless, forms provide no benefit, but as nutrition increases, forms gradually provide more innate mutations from the list. Higher nutrition always means more power, so there's never an incentive to wait for nutrition levels to drop before exploring further.

Potions of blood no longer expire, so there's no longer any benefit in saving monsters to backtrack and feed on later. However, the other effect of having higher nutrition is to increase metabolism & hunger costs (as per existing behavior, or similar). So, trying to maintain the full power of a form indefinitely should deplete a player's supply of blood, whereas eschewing the benefits of forms should allow players to stockpile blood for use in the extended game where drinkable corpses are rare, with plenty of middle ground in between. Also, like other undead, Vampires have a unique reaction to mutation effects, which is to lose nutrition, and the magnitude of this loss does scale with current nutrition level as with all other forms of nutrition loss, so maintaining the full list of a form's mutations in extended could cost quite a lot of blood potions.

Acute vision and vampiric bite are now form-specific benefits at high nutrition. All other historical effects of Vampire nutrition are now static. HP regeneration is normal at all times. Negative energy resistance, rotting resistance, torment resistance, poison immunity, and fangs 3 are all permanent. Vampires cannot be transmuted by any means (not even into a bat), and cannot go berserk (Trog will not accept them as worshipers). Cold resistance is dropped.

Unarmed aptitude is dropped to -3, Stealth to 4, Enchantments to 3, and Poison to -2. Fighting is increased to 0, Long Blades to 1, Armour to 0, Spellcasting to 0, Conjurations to -1, and Transmutations to 5. Stats start at 9, 9, 9 with a random increase to any stat every 4 levels. This is all meant to allow a bit more flexibility in strategic direction, rather than hamfisting them into being Enchanters.

Bat form:
Big wings
Powered by death 1
Repulsion field 1
Powered by death 2
Repulsion field 2
Powered by death 3
Repulsion field 3
Augmentation 1
Augmentation 2
Augmentation 3

Blood form (game is started in this form):
Sanguine armour 1
Robust 1
Sanguine armour 2
Robust 2
Sanguine armour 3
Robust 3
Vampiric bite (now only recoveres HP, no longer provides nutrition)
Augmentation 1
Augmentation 2
Augmentation 3

Shadow form:
Sturdy Frame 1
Nightstalker 1
Sturdy Frame 2
Nightstalker 2
Sturdy Frame 3
Nightstalker 3
Acute vision
Augmentation 1
Augmentation 2
Augmentation 3
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Spider Stomper

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Post Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 00:36

Re: Vampire rework proposal

Vampire is an irredeemably bad idea. Deriving nutrition from monsters is a bad idea on its own, but building a species around fine-grained management of that nutrition really takes the cake. Without the thematic justification of "hey, but people who play this kind of game think vampires are cool" no one would ever think to include such a thing. The thematic justification is very weak too: The whole point of vampires is that they attack live, generally human victims and drink their blood, usually through subterfuge while blending into society -- which obviously has no counterpart in crawl. They do not kill a victim, then bottle their blood for later use. Draining blood from a dead animal is exactly what's done in the course of normal activities like hunting or agriculture. Presumably, the observation was that a mechanic where the player has to drain live monsters on the spot doesn't really work with the gameplay goals of crawl, so better make it work exactly like chunks, but maybe if we call it "bottling blood," people will not notice. I'm just amazed how well that thinking seems to have worked. Crawl vampires are such a weird, deracinated take on what I think is a pretty familiar cultural concept, the appeal completely baffles me.

The main thing that jumps out at me in the current proposal is removal of blood rot, so now you have a permanent resource derived from butchering monsters. In particular, you have to butcher every monster. Not so good! I guess you must blow through a lot of blood using these forms or you'll quickly end up with unlimited blood supplies. So you're "eating" a lot more than normal in a game where you need to eat in almost every minute of play. Presumably you'd be doing this manually too and in combat.

Outside of that, it's more of a shapeshifter/werewolf kind of proposal based on demonspawn mutations mostly. I don't see the point of giving the player this custom demonspawn option, outside of checking the "vampire" box.
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Post Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 19:00

Re: Vampire rework proposal

tealizard wrote:Deriving nutrition from monsters is a bad idea on its own...
This is a condemnation of butchering monsters and eating chunks, which nearly every species engages in.... Furthermore, offering nutrition from monster deaths offers the benefit of scaling the amount of food available to the amount of activity performed (though this does somewhat suffer from the inconsistent edibility of killed monsters). Even if nutrition as a mechanic were to be generally removed from Crawl, and all manual choice were to be removed, there could still be value in having 1 or 2 species that derive temporary power from kills, to reward efficiency.

tealizard wrote:In particular, you have to butcher every monster.
This isn't really true, as there's no need to maximize the amount of blood power available, but it would almost always a better idea to butcher than not to (exceptions including trying for timed portals, and when fleeing a dangerous encounter). Still, this isn't that much different than normal food management, as it's usually a good idea to butcher corpses before you need to eat them so that chunks will be on hand when you get hungry (especially if using spells, abilities, and/or items with a food cost). The auto_butcher option is great for painlessly automating this process (though it seems auto_butcher = true does not work as advertised?), so I don't understand why people complain about having to butcher and eat corpses, unless they don't know about that option.

tealizard wrote:Presumably you'd be doing this manually too and in combat.
Not necessarily. There could easily be a feature to set a target nutrition level, upon which quaffing blood potions could be performed automatically when resting/travelling similar to how eating chunks is automated already. I imagine players would have some preferred nutrition level they'd try to maintain (which would probably vary depending on location), and choose to ramp up just before engaging uncommonly dangerous threats. Spending turns drinking blood while being attacked sounds like incredibly bad strategy.



Shapshifting is a big part of vampire lore (primarily, but not exclusively, to bats), as is mind control, flight, and gaining power from drinking blood. There are also numerous examples in fiction of vampires saving blood for later (more recently, this often takes the form of vampires secretly owning hospitals and/or running blood drives, on the pretense that the blood would be used for medical purposes), and of drinking blood from non-human animals.

Mechanically, the appeal of Vampires in Crawl, at least to me, has 3 aspects, although #2 and #3 have been damaged by past adjustments, and #3 was always a little tedious in its implementation.
1) Premier stealth/stabbing gameplay.
2) Rapid HP recovery for better survivability in straight-up fights.
3) Mode-shifting.

If borrowing mutations from Demonspawn is inherently a problem for some reason, new ones could be created uniquely for Vampire instead. I just figured if useful material already exists, why not make use of it?

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Post Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 19:02

Re: Vampire rework proposal

Just thought this might be relevent in a discussion of what is and isn't "Vampire-like":
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_v ... nd_fiction
Spoiler: show
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Barkeep

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Post Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 20:22

Re: Vampire rework proposal

IMO current Vine Stalker is a pretty good example of a good Crawl vampire-like species
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Post Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 21:13

Re: Vampire rework proposal

In terms of draining effective HP from enemies, I agree, though that's as far as it goes.
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Post Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 00:32

Re: Vampire rework proposal

Paging through Siegurt's link, a solution to the theme issue came to me. We can add "Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup" rows to each section somewhere between "Count Chocula" and "Bunnicula," add some new columns for things like "Carefully drains blood of slain opponents, often including animals, into bottles for later use," and we've got a verified, Wikipedia-approved interpretation.

But seriously, folks, I don't see a lot of dispute on the whole "attacks live, usually human victims, often through subterfuge" thing, even as I page through this massive table of traits only wikipedia editors would compile that make little mention of this pretty broad and basic interpretation flanked by art and shots from film showing vampires sneaking through dark places, carefully approaching a sleeping victim, and so forth.

The game has a whole lot of species. Just remove the bad take on vampires that's there and replace it with nothing. You'll find things improve a lot faster when you're willing to cut things straight up instead of waiting until you have a replacement to drop in.
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Post Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 09:24

Re: Vampire rework proposal

Vampires can be pretty strong, since they can dynamically act something like a lich that can escape torment and quaff potions, or ditch undead status to fight holy monsters, all without learning spells--meaning necromutation. But, having played them a bit, I usually dread playing them now for one simple reason: I hate the management of the states and blood. You can sit on the edge between states and take full advantage, but it is tedious. If you change the states to some different sets of mutations instead of the currently, very important undead-status or not, it will be the same problem with just less important factors.

I hardly think we need anything as drastic as removing vampires from the game. Long before that, I would suggest just to simplify them. The easiest thing to do would be to parallel them to a vinestalker, except that they drain life. No blood, no states, no mess, just a different set of aptitudes for a different flavor of undead with a few other unique things about them. On the topic of stockpiling targets, I wouldn't bother worrying about that too much. If a player is hellbent on doing something extremely scummy, there are plenty of super tedious things that can be done, taking advantage of monsters you don't kill - it's just a waste of time to pursue worrying about everything. As long as the vampires can regen from resting normally, it won't be much of any issue anyhow.

For a more radical change, I would give vampires some kind of ability like enslave, where they can create a few vampire-minions out of their foes, but no more than two or three. Maybe make it hurt the vampire when a minion dies or something for extra flavor.

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Post Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 09:39

Re: Vampire rework proposal

svendre wrote:Vampires can be pretty strong, since they can dynamically act something like a lich that can escape torment and quaff potions, or ditch undead status to fight holy monsters, all without learning spells--meaning necromutation. But, having played them a bit, I usually dread playing them now for one simple reason: I hate the management of the states and blood. You can sit on the edge between states and take full advantage, but it is tedious. If you change the states to some different sets of mutations instead of the currently, very important undead-status or not, it will be the same problem with just less important factors.

I hardly think we need anything as drastic as removing them. Long before that, I would suggest just to simplify them. The easiest thing to do would be to parallel them to a vinestalker, except that they drain life. No blood, no states, no mess, just a different set of aptitudes for a different flavor of undead with a few other unique things about them. On the topic of stockpiling targets, I wouldn't bother worrying about that too much. If a player is hellbent on doing something extremely scummy, there are plenty of super tedious things that can be done, taking advantage of monsters you don't kill - it's just a waste of time to pursue worrying about everything. As long as the vampires can regen from resting normally, it won't be much of any issue anyhow.

For a more radical change, I would give vampires some kind of ability like enslave, where they can create a few vampire-minions out of their foes, but no more than two or three.


Because of the sheer number of states vampires have now, I'll agree with this. Simplicity would be much better.
As for the enslavement, it could work like a species-specific parallel to the enslavement wand (maybe with a different stat to govern resistance). A bootleg {reaping} could be interesting too, from the whole "vampire with thralls" lore.
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Snake Sneak

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Post Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 20:55

Re: Vampire rework proposal

It took me a while to come around to removing them, but I think that's the move that makes the most sense at this point. I think balancing things around nutrition is a mistake no matter what, yet thirst, stalking, and compulsion to drink blood is absolutely core to the vampire's theme.

Something like a creature dependent on taking different forms, with each form having its own advantages and disadvantages makes sense, but it doesn't need to be a vampire, and it doesn't need to involve a nutrition clock with blood.
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Post Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 23:08

Re: Vampire rework proposal

One problem with forms you can voluntarily shift between is that one form will be optimal for auto-exploring and one for fighting. Even with exhaustion, you will autoexplore in shadow mode, find a scary monster, back out of LoS, transform to blood mode, and then fight them. You'd need to charge a more permanent resource for transforms. Perhaps blood?

I'd also prefer only two forms, because the UX for transforming between two forms is much simpler (a-a for "Transform" would be the same in both forms, rather than a-a, a-b, a-c).

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Post Thursday, 7th March 2019, 00:18

Re: Vampire rework proposal

After reading the entire thread, here is my basic suggestion for vampires:

  • Remove potions of blood
  • Remove drinking from corpses.
  • Gain nutrition from only melee bites against living enemies.
  • Their lowest nutrition level (call it Thirsty) should not be crippling. Regen rate should not go to zero.
  • Their highest nutrition level (call it Engorged) should not be crippling either; in particular it shouldn't disable batform.
  • Their max nutrition level be close enough to the minimum that it isn't feasible to store "blood banks" on other levels, because you'll be back to Thirsty by the time you return.

The rest is hashing out details. I like the suggestion of giving them inherent PBD mutation.

PS: I'd also remove batform, but I can see how people would be reluctant to let that go.

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Spider Stomper

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Post Thursday, 7th March 2019, 00:43

Re: Vampire rework proposal

That's a lot better than any other suggestion I've seen re: dcss vampires. Getting rid of the chunk interaction, less fine-grained player control of nutrition, less complex and consequential nutrition states, and little or no incentive to bank monsters would all be major improvements.

edit: About banking monsters, you would need additional mechanics to prevent herding monsters, i.e. moving them around and/or keeping them as pets. One possibility would be to prevent living monsters from taking stairs to chase vampires. Keeping pets through the course of clearing a single level seems harder to prevent. The amount of blood-state loss you'd need to make this work would start to look like Uskayaw piety mechanics.
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Post Thursday, 7th March 2019, 11:57

Re: Vampire rework proposal

That would solve a lot about vampire-the-blood-minigame, but they would still have 54 different states that would be also more uncontrollable by the player.

Really, I am 100% positive that a new race proposal with half of the traits of a Vp - even without all their gimmicks or quirkcs - would be never considered.
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Post Friday, 8th March 2019, 05:00

Re: Vampire rework proposal

nago wrote:That would solve a lot about vampire-the-blood-minigame, but they would still have 54 different states


Three states.

that would be also more uncontrollable by the player.


If the player exclusively used spells or ranged, or when he visited extended, he would stay Thirsty.

If he used magic and ranged most of the time, but occasionally closed in for a bite, he could stay at the low end of Satiated.

Polearm users and stabbers might bounce between Satiated and Engorged.

Players who went all-out melee would stay at Engorged until extended.

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