Name dcss:feedback:background: stalker
Summary This page attempts to improve and focus Stalker.
Added by tgw
Added on 2010-07-19 18:39

Stalker is pretty terrible right now, and its skills are split between a bunch of unrelated schools. Many of the spells aren't even tangentially related to stabbing. Here is my proposal:

  • Remove the Enchantments. The only ones that are useful for stabbing are Invisibility, which is already used by Enchanter, and Petrify.
  • Remove the Conjurations. Sting seems to be trying to parallel Assassin, but this isn't really necessary. Mephitic Cloud is good for stabbing, however.

My proposed version of the book of Stalking is as follows:

L1  Fulsome Distillation  (tmut/nec)
L2  Evaporate             (tmut/fire)
L3  Passwall              (tmut/earth)
L4  Petrify               **(tmut/earth)**
L4  Dig                   (tmut/earth)

This leaves us with a significant focus on using transmutations to stab. Evaporate replaces the niche filled by Mephitic Cloud. Petrify should be reschooled to transmutations and kept in the book.

Petrify should be in geomancy, as EEs currently have no disabling abilities and the spell (theoretically) has synergy with LRD. If the spell becomes tmut/earth, including it becomes an even easier choice. Perhaps remove passwall, if stalkers are going to get both of them. — og17 2010-07-19 19:05
This is a cool idea thematically, and this proposed book has great flavour and doesn't overlap too much with other books. My concern is that it is worse than the book for enchanter, worse than the transmuter book and worse than the current stalker book. Passwall, Petrify, and Dig are just not that useful compared to other starting spells. I think this would turn stalker into a so-called “challenge” background. — xyblor 2010-07-30 00:35
Guess I should've noticed this before, but there's a very basic weakness here in that there's nowhere to go from the starting spells. What else does transmutations or earth offer stealth play? Shapeshifting forms are unarmed brawlers and earth explosions are anything but quiet. What's left, stoneskin? Players are either going to need to radically shift playstyles mid-game or have a lot of dead-end skill. — og17 2010-07-31 04:31
Current stalkers also have “nowhere to go from the starting spells” except by picking up Charms and becoming a bad version of an Enchanter. Other changes could fix this problem, from making forms not shoehorn you into UC, to introducing a new form, to making earth (the smallest school, I believe) have more useful and interesting spells. Note that this background also has access to necromancy skill. — tgw 2010-09-02 16:45
stalkers are mixed venom mages-assassins and this is their advantage, they are not mixed transmuters-earth elementalists, it should be idea for a new background imho
“Mixed VM-assassin” is not a character background, it's a VM that picked up a dagger on D:1. Stalker lacks an identity (it's the only starting book except minor magic with >1 school [EDIT: except geomancy and summon elemental, but do you really want more summon elementals in geomancies?], and as I said half the book is useless for stealth) and what useful spells it has are level 3 with three schools, level 4 with two schools, and level 6. On the other hand, transmutation stabbers are not currently represented by a background, and this set of spells gives a much smoother graduation from level 1 to the end using a single school and spells that are actually relevant. Stalker does neither at the moment. — tgw 2010-09-02 16:45
not dagger only, this vm should pick invisibility and enchantments generally somehow, leaving aside lesser dex. i guess it's no good to completely remake an old background making new one. though anyhow this new stalker is in trunk now. — nyaa 2010-09-15 02:41
Yeah, it feels wrong to have a background that shares nothing but the name only. — KiloByte 2010-09-15 10:00

I am surprised to hear the basis for this topic. I have found stalkers to be a very strong beginning for a hybrid character. The current (0.7) stalker is analagous to an assassin but has venom-mage-powers instead of the throwing and curare. The current spells make sense in that they use poison and stabbing to kill: Sure blade-for accurate stabbing; Sting-kill with poison from a distance like a blowgun; Projected Noise-to distract monsters; Mephitic Cloud-confuse enemies and stab them although this might be an overpowered spell for this build and maybe confuse would be more appropriate if it didn't overlap with enchanter; Poison Weapon-makes sense; Petrify-I have no experience with this spell but a “paralysis” like spell makes sense; Invisibility -for creaping up on enemies and killing them. The proposed fulsome distillation and evaporate make the change seem like a stalker is to be a transmuter with a dagger and less of a future. And why passwall? — Tenaya 2010-09-15 22:54

I don't care too much about Stalkers (the old set was okay, the new one is too, and probably more interesting) but: Passwall is the stabber's spell of choice. Just try it out. — dpeg 2010-09-16 04:33
I am probably alone here but I don't really feel that a Stalker's primary role is to be a stabber. The old Stalker was just trying too hard to be a Magic-supported Assassin instead of… an Assassin. Instead of trying to make Stalker a magic-stabber, it should be focused on safely and stealthily navigating dungeon levels. I feel some appropriate spells might include Projected Noise, Swiftness, Passwall, Dig, Silence, Petrify (ench/earth or tmut/earth), Invisibility. — fazisi 2010-09-16 01:40


New stalkers are in trunk. One thing before I can offer any real feedback: They only start with 1 transmutations skill. That's not nearly enough to cast anything. For reference, Transmuter gets 2 spellcasting and 2 transmutations. — TGW 2010-10-23 18:40

My Spriggan Stalker had trouble training her spellcasting skills - the first two spells consume corpses/potions, and a level 3 spell requires quite a bit of training to cast, and a lot more before spell hunger is under control. (This is also a problem for Transmuters, but at least you can spam Sticks to Snakes.) — JoachimSchipper 2011-01-22 21:40
No idea why the class is still 1 cast/1 tmut, but you can cast fulsome without corpses with Z. — OG17 2011-01-22 22:21 [Thanks, I didn't know that. — JoachimSchipper 2011-01-23 10:29]
Even so, the point remains that it's really hard to get your magical skills up as a Stalker. Fulsome Distillation and Evaporate are both spells that are used relatively infrequently, so you need to victory dance like crazy if you want your Transmutation or Spellcasting skills to go anywhere, and Earth can't be trained at all except by victory dancing Passwall (which is naturally used even less frequently). Getting Earth high enough to make Passwall's range useful and getting any skill high enough to get Petrify castable at all is fairly difficult, and with neither Earth or Transmutations being high on the list of broadly-useful long-term schools it's dubious whether it's even worth the effort. Especially since positive aptitudes in Earth Magic are rare and never accompany positive aptitudes in both Transmutations and Stabbing. In fact, the best Transmuter/Stabber races are Merfolk, Spriggans, and Vampires, all three of whom have negative Earth aptitudes (and Sludge Elves are positive in Transmutation/Earth but negative in Short Blades/Stabbing). — Sjohara 2011-01-22 22:45

Why change what is not broken? Except for extremely situational Projected Noise and useless Poison Weapon(since brands are not cumulative and overabundant ), all of their skills and spells are spot on already, they are among the most interesting classes to play. Maybe add some Blinking to run away after a good stab….— SinsI 2010-10-23 21:44

Well, I guess this is too little too late then, but I feel this change was just based on semantics. The introduction to the topic is that the Stalker's starting skills have little relation to stabbing … so? So, Stalkers were a combination of melee and poison magic; what's wrong with that? Comparing this to a venom mage who picked up a dagger and learned Fighting is like saying a Reaver is a Conjurer who picked up a weapon and learned fighting. Both are accurate but is there a feeling that Reavers should be removed? As for cohesiveness, the spells were fine: enough skill in Poison Magic and a little skill in Conjurations/Enchantments were sufficient. Were Stalkers considered overpowered? A better idea would have been to just create a new background titled Stabber with stabbing-like skills and leave Stalkers alone. Thanks for reading. — Tenaya 2010-12-10 08:05

Reavers have a point: instead of wasting turns when an enemy approaches, you wound him with spells, then go to melee instead of screaming and dying like pure mages do. Old Stalkers: not so much, you either play a pure Venom Mage or an Assassin. — KiloByte 2010-12-10 12:40
Old Stalkers also: when an enemy approaches, wound it with sting, cast a buff and go to melee. Venom mages have a more difficult start because they have to rest between each pillar dance; and assassins have only their curare for a back-up weapon. And starting curare does not last long if you meet up with some combination of (for example) Sigmund, a gnoll pack, or an ogre on level 2. — Tenaya 2011-01-05 04:22
Sting is one of the better starting spells and VM was the easier class because it was the stronger caster. If stalkers meleed it was because they started with one lousy mp, and they'd end up resting their hp back afterwards anyway. — OG17 2011-01-05 20:16
(Reavers should be removed.) — OG17 2010-12-10 18:03

According to the LearnDB, Stalkers have a better win ratio when not excluding “good players” and Venom Mages have a better win ratio among “good players”. I'd say it is therefore subjective which is the easier background. Both Stalkers and Venom Mages have better win ratios than Reavers, though. — Tenaya 2011-01-07 06:02

Win ratio doesn't really mean anything. — MrMisterMonkey 2011-01-07 07:00
Especially when the overall old stalker winrate was actually .7% and VM's was .8% (with all of five wins' difference). — OG17 2011-01-07 17:55
If it helps, I find the 0.7 stalkers way easier than the 0.7 venom magi, due to easily converting from a venom mage build to an enchanter build in the midgame. — minmay 2011-01-07 17:04

Right, so it is a matter of opinion which one is actually easier. And, I also find old stalkers way easier than venom mages. So, the rationale presented by KiloByte that old stalkers are weaker than venom mages or assassins seems to not have any basis. The original rationale that started this page also seems irrelevant; Stalkers not being stabbers hardly seems like justification for removal. On the other hand, if people were simply bored of Old Stalkers (and I am just behind the times) then fine. But they should probably be deleted and a new background created for what is essentially a completely different background. In my opinion, a background consisting of melee and poison magic seems like a good combination, though, and there is probably room for both the Old Stalkers and the New Stabbers. — Tenaya 2011-01-07 18:48

All Kilobyte said was that the class was redundant. The only one that's placed any importance on relative difficulty is yourself - so good job proving that there's no difference, I guess? — OG17 2011-01-07 20:19

All that I've been doing is arguing that it is an enjoyable and viable background and trying to figure out the basis for its removal. I only brought up relative difficulty because I understood that to be Kilobyte's point. Thanks for clarifying (despite your apparent sarcasm). Regarding redundancy: OK fine, though I disagree that a melee and poison magic hybrid is redundant, and in my experience plays very differently than either a VM or Assassin. But since the trend seems to be to remove backgrounds, why not remove some of the pure backgrounds (EE, AE, FE, IE, CJ-f, CJ-i) that are clearly redundant and leave some fun hybrids? — Tenaya 2011-01-07 23:43

Cj/Re is indeed redundant, but are you really claiming that EE, AE, FE, and IE are not only “clearly” redundant, but more redundant than old stalker was? — OG17 2011-01-08 01:05

Cj/EE/AE/FE/IE all use damage spells to kill monsters directly; the only difference is which elemental school of magic they use. If you had one background named “Elementalist” and allowed a choice of element the same result could be achieved as having 5 backgrounds. Cj/Re shouldn't be redundant because Cj use conjurations exclusively to kill monsters, while reavers are a hybrid magic and melee; how Reavers actually play, I do not know because I do not have enough experience with them. Old stalkers were not redundant, they were a hybrid. — Tenaya 2011-01-09 04:29

Technically you could just have one “elementalist” background, except that's a poor idea because the elementalists are all way different. — TGW 2011-01-09 06:00
The current trend among the developers is a desire to reduce the number of separate choices you have to make in character creation, thus splitting classes (for instance, Priest is likely to get split into Death Knight, Priest and I believe nonaligned orcs having Beogh by default). So there's no chance of five classes being combined. — Brickman 2011-01-10 01:16
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dcss/brainstorm/background/stalker.txt · Last modified: 2011-01-23 10:32 by JoachimSchipper
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