proposal: carbonize

Name dcss:brainstorm:magic:spell:carbonize
Summary Proposal for a new transmutations spell
Further information
Added by iceiceice
Added on Dec 03, 2016

My initial inspiration here is an experience I often have in ultra-lategame. I find some artifact weapon like a crossbow that doesn't match my skill set. There's no way I'm going to retrain and use this item, so I should probably just ignore it, sight unseen – it's not even worth burning a scroll of identify, from the point of view of this character.

However, I really want to know what that item is, for the purpose of metagame. In all roguelikes, chance is a big part of the game, and knowing the parameters of what *can* happen and how likely it is to happen is a big part of becoming a better player. It's similar to calling someone's hand in a game of Poker – you pay to see what cards they had, even if you don't think you'll win this round, because that information might help you in later rounds.

What I would argue is that while that's fine in card games like Poker, this is actually a bad tension to have in a roguelike. At least in most roguelikes and fantasy games, it's not really considered to be in good taste to explicitly break the fourth wall. I argue that it's also not good to have a tension between game strategy and metagame strategy.

In other words, I think it's bad to put the player in a position where they have to decide “well if I burn a scroll of identify on this artifact that I won't use this game, it unequivocally hurts this character, but it may help my future runs, so I'm going to do it”. It's better if the vast majority of their decision-making is “in character”, or at least, the in-game and out-of-game decision making goals aren't at odds.

What I propose

A mechanic so that you can identify an item, but it is instantly destroyed so you can't use it in this run. Then you would use that on such items instead of using a scroll of identify.

One way to try to introduce such a mechanic is to make it a Transmutations spell. There are not that many such spells and this would add some utility to the school.

Besides using it on such items, such a spell is potentially useful for scrolls and potions – burn one of the scrolls or potions, without actually using it, and the others are identified. It's not clear if that should be allowed, but on the other hand, then the spell would be useful in several situations, rather than just one.

Proposed Description

Carbonize: Level 4 Transmutations

Destroys an item in your inventory. The item is identified in the process. The item cannot be currently worn or wielded.


It's important that it doesn't give you a free escape from cursed items, *drain items, distortion items, etc.

It could quite reasonably be level 1, but on the other hand, having a sack full of unidentified scrolls and potions is sort of an essential part of the crawl experience, so it should be expensive enough to force most characters to invest significant resources if they want to use it. (Most characters, except transmuters, won't be able to cast this spell until later on in the game, and many characters would rather not sacrifice spell slots for a marginal advantage like this.) It might be better if it doesn't work on scrolls or potions, and then it should be level 1 I guess.

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carbonize.txt · Last modified: 2016-12-03 17:27 by iceiceice
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