Name dcss:brainstorm:branch:hells
Summary A brainstorming page about Hells in general.
Further information Vestibule, Cocytus, Dis, Gehenna, Tartarus
Added by evktalo
Added on 2010-04-02 19:13

This page is only for things that apply to all Hells.

Hell Force Racial Awareness

It feels strange to me that even as a demonspawn, you get the standard, exact same “You don't belong in this place” as messages from whatever the mysterious spirits of hell are as any other race would. I mean, come on, you're a demon. They probably know your dad. Maybe it could say something like “Welcome home… now die!” to demonspawn, who are actually from hell, and “Your [father/mother] cannot save you from our power” rather than “Die, mortal” to a demigod? Seems like a minor change but would add a lot of atmosphere to those of us who enjoy these two races with their relationship to the divine in particular.

The Hells should be Difficult to Traverse

The Hell levels 1-6 should be about trying to find your way to the bottom while being bombarded with hell effects and attacked by monstrosities. This works well already, but the level generation isn't really trying that much. The idea for Swamp placing stairs difficultly is good for Hells too, perhaps even better. More uses for mapping!

This was unrecomended by kilobyte and dpeg on Mantis 0006587. — infiniplex 2013-01-31 13:01


  • A route is a path from one upstairs to one downstairs.
  • The upstairs should be as far from the downstairs as possible.
  • Each up/downstairs pair can be separated from the others. Not always, but often.
  • Each Hell can use different methods of separating the stairs and blocking the player from reaching the bottom with the layout. Walls would be the usual method of course.
  • This should result in player taking a certain path through the first six levels.
  • The player might find that the route has obstacles they cannot overcome. Thus, the player tries another route, possibly having to take the portal back to Vestibule and start again.
  • The routes sometimes/often intersect, so there are many possible paths.

Hells are too uniform

The Hells are all-evil, all-corpseless (and so is Pan). This restricts the availability of majority of the runes for different character builds.

Nitpick: Dis:7 and Coc:7 have iron and ice dragons, respectively. In addition, hell knight packs can spawn in Hells. — ogaz 2010-04-21 03:19

See discussion on the following page: Vampires. Also check Eronarn's Demonic Monster Overhaul, and evktalo_s_pandemonium_ueberhowl.

Neutral, tortured mortals in Hells

To address the issue of the current corpselessness of the Hells, a potential solution could be the addition of living humans to be found within the various levels, ostensibly being tortured there by the resident demons. This would play out so that the humans are neutral to both the player and the computer, yet can be killed by the player for their meat if desired.

They could be located en masse in rows within special rooms (along with several flavour-specific demons like Tormentors, playing the role of their torturers) or randomly strewn throughout the levels paired up with a demon (acting in the same capacity). This would lead to interesting ethical questions on the part of the player, as they would be able to use the human corpses (if they chose to murder the human) to obtain food in the Hells (and potentially in Pan as well, though I don't really think the flavour fits necessarily as well there), though at the cost of the human's life. This should clearly be proscribed by the good gods, resulting in penance if the player does it anyway, but would be useful for the Vampire class, along with, of course, Ghouls, who face a similar food dilemma when in the Hells and are not as bound by such moral compunctions.

This is a great idea. I like the concept a lot and fits hells to the tee. Not so sure about the “en masse”. Playtesting would show many corpse-giving monsters are actually needed (not so many, I'd suspect). Two good points about the proposal: the hells are branches you generally don't want to explore fully. And the humans would not respawn, so the source of corpses is limited from the start.
For a start, it might suffice to add humans by way of hell-specific vaults (there would be some vaults usable for all hells, and the some specific ones). There could be vaults with one, two or more humans. This approach is particularly simple, we could do it right away (apart from finer points like the humans being unable to move, and the player being able to free them). Humans accompanying demons would need code, but should be rare enough to be also generated by vaults.
I am against using this solution for Pan (or other corpse-less branches). First, it fits Hell very well; secondly, we want our branches to be different (also on the topic if and how they provide corpses) and thirdly, there have been other ideas for Pan already (blood fountains, non-demonic enemies).
Regarding gods: I fully agree. There could also be a battle god who doesn't like killing helpless monsters (i.e. non-enemies).
dpeg 2010-09-16 04:59

The living humans could be of a varying abundance, but would be completely immobile, always being permanently stuck on a rack/gibbet/wheel/chains tile to indicate their imprisonment and perfidy. They could call out periodically to indicate their pain and suffering, as could the demons, until the latter notices and engages with the player. They could be described, if examined, as sinners who are in the early stages of their eternal punishment (and are therefore not completely annihilated/undead/enthralled by demons). Alternatively, they could just be regular mortals who were routinely abducted by the demons to vent their cruelty upon (perhaps after engaging in sinful activity?). I think the latter explanation makes more sense, as, in the former case, they would be as discorporeal as the demons themselves, with only their souls being tormented. The point is that the demons would never attack the human units in the actual game, as they are more interested in torturing them than outright killing them, with the presumption that they will resume doing so once they've dealt with the player character.

In my opinion, the best option is to not explain why the humans are around. Whether they have sinned, or are tortured for fun is not relevant to the game. But players will readily provide an answer, so we don't have to tell them. So I would just describe something like this: A tortured human, nailed to a rack.
By the way, should really only humans be around? Why not also elves, kobolds etc? — dpeg 2010-09-16 05:07
This should definitely use all the living intelligent races, though it might be better to avoid poisonous ones like kobolds, as their corpses are less useful for vampires, who need them more than anyone else. Also, as everyone knows, all dogs go to heaven.og17 2010-09-16 05:41
I agree with both of you on all counts, especially with regard to the absence of the kobold genus, which I find to be very funny and practical. In fact, this flavour could be taken a step further, with a new kobold-genus creature added to the Holy Monster Overhaul for 0.8, though this may belabour the point =) — straydusk 2010-09-16 20:40
You don't have to rely on racial poison resistance. As a vampire, you can bring an item with rP in Hells so you can drink kobold corpses. — galehar 2010-09-17 08:54
Obviously, but you can't bottle it, which matters when you want to stay at full health and low/no blood. — og17 2010-09-17 12:20

There could possibly be an additional mechanic in which these humans could be “redeemed” by followers of the good gods for piety in order to make them equally (or moreso) desirable than their corpses would be to the followers of neutral/evil gods. Followers of neutral gods could either free them or eat them, but would lack this (speculative) additional redemption mechanic. In any case, one could alternatively view their killing by the followers of evil/neutral gods as a sort of euthanasia which would be preferable to the prolonged torment in store for them (though the ensuing cannibalism would be an extremely horrible fate nevertheless). If they were to be freed from their bondage, they would follow the same routine as an Elyvilon pacification, making a beeline for the nearest staircase after saying something flavourful about following a pure and just life after their terrible ordeal, etc. A redemption mechanic would require the intervention of one of the good gods, as the player character wouldn't really have that sort of power or authority in the matter. The human enduring torture could be freed by possibly attacking a lock/device located on the same tile or one adjacent to them; attacking them a second time and beyond would connote the desire to actually harm them. Overall this draws inspiration from Pikel's slaves as well as the Kiku-miasma random altar.

Again, this is (in my opinion) too much story-telling. I agree that having a bunch of half-dead humans on an otherwise cleared hell level is a discomforting idea. One simple solution would be this: each human gets assigned a controller (a nearby demon — this can probably be defined with lua already) and if you kill the controller, the human will move again. (And yes, they should try to leave Hell, just like pacified monsters do.) Whether you kill the human before or after this liberation should make no difference to the gods who care. — dpeg 2010-09-16 05:13

straydusk 2010-05-25 01:38

So, a great idea. Here is my simplified take of it: (dpeg 2010-09-16 05:13)

  • We add some hell-specific vaults which all contain one (or sometimes more than one) human (or possibly some other lowly humanoid) together with a demon (or several demons).
  • The humans are unable to move and described as tortured human, followed by a random description of how they're fixed to something. They may get special speech (moans etc.). They are considered as strictly neutral. (If we want, we could introduce a new status for them.)
  • When all demons of the level (alternatively, all demons in sight) are killed, the human is able to move again. It tries to leave the level as soon as possible. Regarding the player, it is strictly neutral (players can change positions with them). They can be attacked with Ctrl-Direction.
  • If killed, they may leave corpses like normal humans. The good gods will strictly disapprove (immediate expulsion). The good gods should also give a bit of piety for freeing them.
+1 to all points — straydusk 2010-09-16 20:40
Not all Hells should have tortured souls - it's ok if some of them are not feasible for corpse/living enemies dependent characters. Also, such resources in one Hell shouldn't enable a character to do another Hell. Using another Hell's resources to do some other Hell is also a bit iffy - ok because you make a trade-off, but bad because it's tedious (like blood fridges). — evktalo 2010-10-01 17:36
The theme of “tortured souls” is great but I slightly disagree on two main points:
1) These are *souls* that have been claimed, their physical corpse is already rotting back in the mortal world, it doesn't really make sense to drop a second corpse in hell! Unless these are “metaphysical” corpses, in which case maybe they should only provide limited nutrition? And if souls leave metaphysical corpses in hell, perhaps demons could too - mostly contaminated/rotting/poisonous/mutagenic/some new effect, but to my warped outlook this makes things internally consistent.
2) They don't have to be neutral. The forces of hell could easily manipulate the weakened psyches of its permanent inmates to force them to attack you. It doesn't particularly need explaining in-game, but the idea is they are being fed an illusion where you are their most hated foe and they are attacking you out of blind fear. — mumra 2012-04-02 13:08

New Hell Ideas

Of course, all new Hells should have hell effects and no item/shop generation to drive the player forwards.

The Deep

A watery Hell. Has floors of water (shallow), and even the walls are water! Here krakens roam free and nothing can escape the terrors of the fish kind. Most of the inhabitants leave corpses and aren't evil. Some have however sold their souls to the dark forces:

  • hellmaid, a mermaid that's made a demonic pact, with a difficult-to-resist mesmerization (but no siren pull) and a nasty habit of impaling you with a demon trident. Introduced here but also to be spawned during orb run - mesmerize would be a nice nasty effect during it!

The water walls behave thusly:

  • True swimmers can swim through them, amphibious creatures cannot.
  • Swimmers inside walls might get an EV/AC bonus (if desired), or they could behave like rock worms in walls.
  • Water walls cannot be dug or Shattered.
  • Water walls may or may not be transparent; they could be fully see-through, or behave like trees/clouds, or be too murky/blurry to see through.

Regarding routes, sometimes deep water is used instead of water walls. This makes the player to change routes with levitation/flight.

Could be called Styx or Acheron, or other fitting underworld river.

The Trenches

The theme of The Trenches is that it is a horrifying memory of a magical warzone. Spectral soldiers and apparitions of magical war machines wage a war for ever in a labyrinth of trenches.

Uses the “high ground” and more precisely “implicit cliffs” idea from Terrain Type Proposals. The upstairs are always in the trenches, and the player must find a slope to advance to the high ground to find the downstairs to the next floor. For flavour, the up/downstairs could be reversed - the player starts at the bottom and tries to find the way up.

The Hanging Gardens

Similar branch to the Floating Rocks, in that it uses standing_air for terrain. (Movement in that terrain is like movement in this Levitation proposal. Best to read that first.)

Monster set includes kenku (like in the Floating Rocks proposal, but with more advanced types), titans, oklob plants and other hellish plants. And trees! The layout could be Swamp-like, with standing air replacing the water. Trees and standing air could be used to separate routes, along with walls. The high ground could be used as well.

A flavour bit about kenku: they would have been created by demons, but would not be of demonic nature or necessarily evil themselves. Some simply live in this Hell.

The Lethe Wastes

A branch of Hell in which the player's level is slowly but continually drained as his memories fade, with no protection even from rN+++. In a 'normal' run through the branch, the player should lose around 4 or 5 levels before reaching the rune, but the levels are returned to the player after he leaves the branch. Floors 1-6 are not persistent (flavor: the player forgets them as soon as he can't see them) to prevent degenerate behavior like mapping the route through the first 6 floors to do the 7th at a higher level. Perhaps immediately reduce the player to level 26 upon entering the branch to prevent players from simply building up fantastic stores of experience before attempting it. — dtsund 2010-09-28 02:01

I like this a lot. Good variation of the “hurry find downstairs” thing in the Hells. — evktalo 2010-10-01 17:36
Presumably the inhabitants of this branch give no EXP? That's to say: when you exit this branch you have exactly the same amount of EXP as you had when you entered it, no matter how many kills you racked up while inside. — Psieye 2012-10-31 16:03


A chaotic realm sealed in a never ending storm.

A branch of hell that has an electric/air theme. When players are exploring along with the effects of hell, the area would also randomly: 1) Add random patches of deep water 2) Have random groups of ferocious winds (like the tornado spell) 3) have storm clouds (for effect?) 4) Randomly pick up objects and randomly blow the player around. These could all be done for effect or to make the journey harder. It would be 7 floors like the rest of the Hells. It would be inhabited by electric/air themed demons (which there aren't many of, so maybe like a LOT of sixfirhys together), electric golems, storm dragons (although maybe when you kill them their corpse gets blown away to keep the no corpse theme of hell), quicksliver dragons, and Kenku (air mages maybe?). The 7th floor could be disconnected stone areas with ever moving patches of air that the player can travel on (kind of like if you were trying to move onto the spaces in fire clouds where the fire was about to spawn instead of about to dissapear.) If the player fell, maybe they would leave the branch, or get banished? I thought a cool demon lord would be Tonitrus (latin for thunder) or Ishkur (Sumerian god of the storm, same naming scheme for Ereshkigal), who would guard the cloudy rune/electric rune. The boss would be twice as fast as normal speed, use electric themed/air themed spells, and blink around. Not much HP but a high EV. He could also summon demons maybe, but he would be tough if he blinked and was double speed. Kind of similar to other branch ideas. — DoubleG96 2011-08-12 16:41

Name Tonitrus
HP 180
XP 15000
Speed 20
AC 5
EV 35
MR 0
XP 15000
Attack1 33 (hit:electricity)
XP 15000
Food 0
Meat None
Resist electricity
Vuln None

Spells: Conjure Ball lightning, lightning bolt, chain lightning (maybe not), whirlwind (mini-version of tornado for monster only?), airstrike, blink

A demon lord shrouded in clouds of electric energy, who delivers death swiftly.

DoubleG96 2011-08-12 17:10

Hell Effect Reform

Banishment is gone for good reason, paralysis probably needs to go next, and that still leaves multiple pointless or ridiculous results that come up in the current Hell Effect list. There seems to be a reasonable consensus that random miscasts could stand to be replaced with a special-purpose list of effects, but that leaves the formidable problem of brainstorming the items on this list and implementing them.

Eh? What “consensus”? That implies it being discussed and widely agreed to, which it has not been.
Paralysis is fine, it doesn't last that long, and does not need to be tied to tension since: 1. hell effects usually provide some opposition by themselves, 2. paralysis while resting doesn't do much mechanically but helps with theme while being non-tedious. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 15:13
There is a multi-page forum threat in Tavern on the topic, and every member of the devteam who posts there seemed to favor some sort of Hell Effect reform. dpeg directed me to move this to this wiki, so here it is. As for paralysis, in its current implementation it will randomly kill characters that are buffed up and at full health if there's a significant enemy anywhere on the screen. Hell Runes should not be a luck-based mission. KoboldLord 2011-11-13 17:16

Hell is currently the best-designed post-endgame area even in spite of this problem, so it is important not to disrupt the good things that are already in place. Hell effects encourage the player to keep moving, never quite able to rest up to top condition. A player in Hell must sacrifice their progress to get a complete breather, and is well-advised to bring some means of quicker recovery.

There shouldn't be too much stress on absolutely requiring stockpiles of consumables. Tomb already has that, and it results in people sitting in the Abyss or Pan to gather potions of healing for it. Adding another branch to this would be a terrible idea. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 15:13
This paragraph was re-affirming part of the status quo. Hell already does that, and it doesn't need to change. KoboldLord 2011-11-13 17:17
Uhm, no. Only Tartarus has a small amount of rot (with an infinitessimal chance elsewhere), there's no noticeable drain of potions and scrolls (assuming you don't bring potions to Cocytus or scrolls to Gehenna, but no one does THAT). — KiloByte 2011-11-13 18:28

There are two distinct situations where different types of effects are relevant, and effects that are useful in one are frequently not useful in the other. A player in low-tension situations can completely ignore tactical problems like status effects, so low-tension Hell Effects should either push the player into the next fight or cause a strategic dilemma. On the other hand, a player in a high-tension situation has bigger things to worry about than a bit of statrot or inventory cursing, so such a situation needs Hell Effects that make a high-tension situation more interesting. As before, it is probably useful to have a general shared list of Hell Effects, plus a set of Hell Effects unique to each of the four branches.

A big fat no to tying hell effects to tension. That implies a mind behind it (good for Xom), makes the tension mechanism more overused, and leads to degenerate play where players sit next to easy monsters all the time, to not risk zero-tension effects. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 15:13
I would hope that when implemented, safeguards would be implemented to prevent the use of tension pets. If you'll continue to read below, the high-tension effects assume there's a major threat on the board, so probably the low-tension effects would too. KoboldLord 2011-11-13 17:20
If theme and overuse of tension is the problem, perhaps the flavour can be adapted to accommodate: the current 'low-tension' effects are from the environment but the 'high-tension' effects are caused by greater demons using 'home-turf advantage'. So instead of messages like “you smell brimstone”, you get something like “the 1s demon manipulates an opportune shift in the environment”. This would make it clear to unspoiled players that it's the presence of these top-tier demons that causes different Hell effects to happen to them. To keep in line with the current Hell effect system, only one greater demon should ever be able to inflict a 'high-tension' Hell effect on you. The number of greater demons around do not affect the probability nor the number of effects inflicted on you. — Psieye 2012-10-31 16:11

Low-tension effects should kick in frequently enough that attempting to rest is highly inconvenient, but not so often that you can't find another high-tension fight if you want to avoid them. 150-250 turns on average is probably good. Translocation-type effects should probably provoke an immediate low-tension effect if the destination is in a low-tension area, so that teleportation doesn't become mandatory for routine travel through explored territory in order to avoid low-tension effects.

High-tension effects need to kick in frequently enough and strongly enough that they have a tactical impact, but not so frequently that they become routine and not so strongly that they are impossible to survive. Ideally, the player should be able to continue the fight, at least most of the time, and a Hell Effect should never kill a healthy player all by itself. Perhaps 1 in 3 significant fights should involve a high-tension effect, and 1 in 3 of those are followed up by another high-tension effect a few turns later, just when the player thinks that it's safe. 1 in 27 major fights continue to have additional high-tension effects every so often until the high tension is removed, and these fights might be good times to run away if the player can't defeat all the monsters quickly. Scheduled high-tension effects can be averted or mitigating by fleeing, defeating all major enemies (low-level minions should not count, because they aren't enough of a threat to take advantage of tactical Hell Effects), or by maneuvering so that possible effects would hinder the monsters worse than the player.

Low-Tension Examples

Rotting, sickness, stat drain, skill drain (like Ashenzari penance), strong poison. Too slow to make a difference in combat, but forces the player to use consumables if they want to rest and then continue. The effect of these is mostly as a breather; rot is bad and you want to avoid it, but you can still recover most of your hp and mp and repair the damage after you get the Rune.

Forcing having a supply of consumables is bad for reasons I outlined above. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 15:13

Monster spawning. These should probably be strong monsters every time. A pack of iron devils does not make resting more difficult; you just have to button mash for a few seconds and then hit 5 again. A branch-appropriate foo fiend, an executioner, a lich or ancient lich, a greater mummy, or other top-end threat is probably a good leader for the attack squad, and they can be accompanied by a significant number of branch-appropriate brutes and/or a few elite minions. For example, Gehenna might randomly spawn a fiend or an ancient lich as the squad leader, who is accompanied by a small number of hellions or hell knights and a large squad of sun demons or hell hounds. Chaff like crimson imps should probably not be bothered with, except as flavor or as an intentional breather.

Malign Portal. These get the player moving to elsewhere, and anything that pushes the player to head into unexplored territory is good.

Damaging clouds. These also force the player to move, even if they have resistance. They should probably blanket the entire LOS of the player, though, because the little 3×3 miscast clouds don't require the player to move very far at all. This is unlikely to actually kill any players because obviously you would gear up for cold resistance in Cocytus, etc, but it isn't like you can just stand in them indefinitely even with full resistance. Probably not suitable for high-tension because the clouds can be used to kill or funnel monsters, too.

How about semi-intelligent, moving clouds? This would be something new and therefore add some uniqueness to hells. It'd work similarly to Malign Portal in getting the player to move, the types of clouds could bypass resistances to avoid triviality (perhaps even new types of cloud; e.g. MP draining, slowing, electricity) — mumra 2011-11-14 12:42

Malmutations. Currently the gold glow Hell Effect does this, but it makes you mash 5 repeatedly until the gold glow goes away. Mutations are perceived as being very scary by most players, but it is usually possible to work around them. A good mutation set need not be 'safe'. If you want to avoid the malmutations, go start a fight so you get the high-tension effects instead. Rather than being random, the malmutations could be tuned to the branch at hand, so in Gehenna you build up berserkitis, in Dis you build up slow movement, and in Tartarus you build up frail and low magic capacity. If thematic serious malmutations end up being too severe, they could be temporary mutations that eventually time out (function of xp gained or tiles explored, of course) after further adventures away from the source of the malmutations.

You're DRASTICALLY underestimating the effect of bad mutations. They are a game-breaking thing that result in people desperately going for things like scumming early Zigs for cure mut, etc. Plus, adding guaranteed unavoidable sources would throw away all the effort we've put into fun good and neutral mutations since they block cure mutation from working. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 15:13
I'm well-aware of the effect of bad mutations. This is intended to be a scary one, and it wouldn't necessarily make it into the final version. This is from a brainstorming session, so there's likely to be many effects that will not be kept for whatever reason. As far as the threat of cure mutation scumming goes, wouldn't making the temporary mutations time out after some amount of xp or exploration prevent that? Nobody's going to waste a precious cure mutation on an inconvenient mutation that will still go away without it. KoboldLord 2011-11-13 17:24

Wasn't temp. mutation in discution somewhere? It could be a good application place. Cedor 2012-11-10 14:48

Inventory cursing. Another particularly reviled effect, but I think that's only because you have to re-equip every item in your inventory to get rid of all the curses on occasional-use jewelry. It should probably only hit equipped items to prevent easy ring-swapping, because forcing the player to drop unused jewelry in the Vestibule is annoying. One remove curse scroll should be good enough to fix the problem.

Tomb has that to an extreme, existing hell effects are bad enough. Let's keep it at that. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 15:13
This Hell Effect already exists. This is a nerf to it. KoboldLord 2011-11-13 17:24

Torment or mp drain. Directly reverse the effects of resting. Lowering mp to 0 probably isn't really necessary, but the threat of a 25 to 50% reduction could keep players from obsessively topping it off after every fight.

Piety drain. Rationalized as Hell blocking your connection to your deity, you start losing access to your high-piety abilities. A merciful implementation would slowly return the piety after the player leaves Hell, a strict implementation would make the player earn it back.

Eh? So suddenly going to the source of evil to fight it would be “bad” in gods' eyes? So would taking up on the challenge? Or suffering funny maladies Xom can laugh at? Plus, gods like Zin kind of assume you won't be in Hell with less than 190-200 piety. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 15:13
Crawl gods are not omnipotent, so perhaps they have difficulty reaching into this hostile territory, no matter how much they'd like to do so. KoboldLord 2011-11-13 17:27
Some, like Zin, TSO or Makhleb even stress having more effect in Hell. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 18:28

Baleful Teleportation. The player is forcibly teleported, possibly into unexplored territory. A particularly aggressive implementation would look for a concentration of monsters, move the player to that spot, and then cause enough noise to wake the monsters up.

Aggravation. The monsters out of LOS wake up, and they now know where the player is. The area covered could be quite expansive, and last for quite some time.

High-Tension Examples

Confusion, slowing, petrification, vulnerability. These are tactical effects that don't do anything if you're not in a fight, and they shouldn't be excessively crippling.

Mesmerization, fear. These would kick in only against a leader monster. Melee leaders like executioners would get a mesmerization effect, while caster leaders like ancient liches would get a fear effect.

Again, you're assuming a mind, which is bad. Hell effects are supposed to be environment. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 15:13

Monstrous Reinforcements. Branch-appropriate monsters teleport in around the player, replacing any that the player has killed. This would exclude the very strongest monsters, since the idea is to make combat more interesting, not to just force the player to teleport to a cleared area again and start over.

Already done, doesn't need any replacing. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 15:13
Actually I disagree here. These hell effects tend to create hordes of popcorn monsters (not always admittedly, but a lot of the time), and hacking and slashing your way through them is plain tedious. Six skeletal warriors and a tormentor == good and dangerous. Six wights and a few zombies == annoying and tedious. Moreover, the popcorn doesn't much help with the “You can't rest here” idea - generally you aren't going to take more than a few hit points of damage fighting a bunch of wights, unless you're really unprepared for Hell. It makes it more difficult interface-wise to rest up to full HP, but not gameplay-wise, and that's never a good thing. -IonFrigate

Silence. Centered on the player, but decays faster than scroll-silence. It should force the player to keep escape routes open at all times so they can retreat while waiting it out, not automatically force a wand charge every time.

Frenzy on brute monsters. Some sort of combat buff, like extra combat damage, a large to hit bonus, extra attack speed. Those little reapers and iron devils should move up in priority a little bit.

Inner Fire on minor monsters, preferentially selecting for those already in melee with the player. Possibly palette-swap the spell to other elements depending on the branch.

Teleport Anchor. Translocations-like effects are simply shut off for a little while.

Suppress Resistance. The player temporarily loses a pip of resistances, as if they were hit by Cerebov's sword. Elemental attacks might actually be somewhat meaningful.

Direct damage, appropriate for the branch in question. See the heading below.

Direct Damage High-Tension Effects

Gehenna and Cocytus have obvious, strong elemental themes. Cocytus has a little electricity sideline, but is mostly cold damage, and Gehenna is all fire and super-fire. Three pips of the relevant resistance should be extremely useful for ablating the effects, but it should not be adequate to make the effects meaningless. Scrolls and potions are obviously at risk.

Dis is somewhat earth-themed, but earth damage has the boring issue of being irresistible. Some irresistible damage is fine and indeed desirable, but a player should be able to take strategic steps to prepare for the expected challenge. I propose that corrosion damage be included, rationalized by the secondary rust-related theme of the Iron City. Rapid oxidation is not the same as contact with acid which is not the same as contact with alkalines, but modern chemistry is a little anachronistic anyway. They all ruin the structural integrity of materials, whether those materials are armor or flesh. A little threat to the plus of weapons and armors is okay, although probably not to the degree we enjoy in the Slime Pits. One branch where people routinely strip naked to clear it is probably plenty.

Tartarus is kind of a sticky problem, because unlike every other resistance rN+ gives full immunity. Cold damage is taken and poison damage is almost certain to be completely ineffective. We particularly don't want undead characters to be given a completely free ride. I propose an anti-magic theme instead, with Tartarus stifling all forms of energy, life and magic and divinity alike. Candidates for item destruction include food, but another interesting possibility is to drain charges out of consumables such as wands. Probably only a chance of losing a single point at a time out of high-end wands like healing and teleportation, of course, because it isn't an interesting choice to leave them behind if they'd be drained and useless by the time you'd need them anyway, but more replaceable wands and rods can probably afford to lose more points.

Adding more fun miscast effect would be a great thing, but I completely fail to see why hell effects need to be separate. They follow the exact same theme and requirements as respectively: Fire, Cold, Earth, Necro miscasts do. They are currently too predictable – splitting the pool into two shouldn't come before there's enough distinct effects for 2*4 groups. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 15:56
Miscast effects start appearing in the very early game, so consequently there's a huge proportion of them that are completely pointless to a post-endgame character. Furthermore, they're normally caused by player action, so the player can proactively avoid being paralyzed by not casting high-level charms with low skill while next to dangerous monsters, and option that is simply unavailable for Hell Effects. Banishment has already been removed for good reason, so it isn't like it isn't already generally accepted that miscast effects aren't really up to the task. KoboldLord 2011-11-13 17:33
You can't get high-level miscasts from a low level spell. — KiloByte 2011-11-13 18:28


First effect is a flat-out Fire Storm, right on your head. Mostly irresistible. This should be an uncommon effect that strikes maybe two to four times on a typical attempt to steal the Rune from Gehenna, and uncommon enough to have a reasonable chance to avoid completely if the player can speed-run the branch adroitly. Gehenna Storm is controlled by the malign will of Hell itself, so it will not hit 'leadership', including Asmodeus and the strongest monster in a low-tension Hell Effect attack squad. A few minions getting caught in the effect is fine, but the player should be encouraged to rush into melee with the nastiest monster present in order to proactively avoid this serious effect. Therefore, if Gehenna Storm proves to be inappropriate for this reason, fall through to another case.

Another case would be a Hellfire Fusillade. The Hellfire comes over the course of several turns, each a 3×3 hellfire burst centered on the player. Each individual application should only deal modest damage, and the player has time to recognize the problem and heal if needed, but the monsters are presumably going to be doing something in the meantime.

Pillar of Fire deals Bolt of Fire-level direct damage to only the player, and a Conjured Flame effect lingers on the player's tile for a while. Not especially threatening, but possibly enough to encourage the player to move out of a choke point.

Hellfire Burst is a normal, single application of hellfire. It should not be immediately clear if this was a little Burst or the first part of a Fusillade.

Sticky Flame is basically a breather effect, but it's thematic. The initial damage could be somewhat higher, because the player will surely have some sort of fire resistance anyway.

Boiling Blood deals a small amount of fire damage and forces the player into berserk status unless they have a source of clarity.


First up is, as you probably guessed, Cocytus Storm, which is analogous to Gehenna Storm in most ways, only loosely based on Ice Storm instead of Fire Storm. Floor tiles are turned into ice tiles after it hits, which function as normal floor but add to movement delay if the player starts a turn on one.

Ball Lighting is more interesting against the single target that is the player than Chain Lightning would be. The idea is to hurt the player's character, not just kill them outright.

Raging Tempest is a freezing thunderstorm that hangs over the player over the course of several turns. The player takes mild ice damage and some lightning bolts that can be dodged or blocked. More perniciously, the floor around the player turns into shallow water, which has a chance to turn into deep water. If the water at the player's feet starts turning into deep water, they have one chance to move or start levitating or flying on their next action or suffer the consequences. They get a warning of course, but I don't see any reason to make it impossible to drown through inaction here. Unlike Shoals, it is reasonable to demand players come to Hell prepared.

Deep Freeze is relatively heavy ice damage, and the player is slowed for a lengthy period of time. The tile at the player's feet also turns to ice.

Encroaching Rime freezes rivulets of ice around the player, entangling them instantly as if struck by a throwing net. If they were flying at the time, the effect is suppressed, but fortunately the effect also freezes any water beneath them into an ice tile. Direct damage is mild, and most of the threat comes from monsters taking advantage of the situation.

Metabolic Torpor is the obligatory sleep effect. Damage is moderate and the sleep breaks the moment the player takes damage, so the player probably won't even be surrounded yet.


Crystal Tower of Dis is a massive Crystal Spear that bursts out from beneath the player, displacing them towards the enemy leadership if possible. The tile the player occupied before is replaced by a transparent rock wall tile. Given the fairly substantial damage involved, the effect should be rare enough to make it functionally impossible to abuse the permanent tile change. Besides, there's also the Deconstruction effect.

Rapid Deconstruction blows up all wall tiles next to the player. Also any bone, stone, or crystal minion-monsters next to the player. AC is an effective defense, but it's probably a bad idea to linger in a narrow hallway during high tension, and not just because it won't stay as a narrow hallway.

Creeping Rust damages a player that passes next to a wall as if by a Slime wall, and furthermore damages a player standing on the floor as if the floor was a single tile of Slime wall. The latter part can be prevented by flying, but bits of wall crumble onto you even if you're just nearby.

Gravity instantly dispels any flying magic affecting the player and suppresses any natural flight abilities they have. If they happen to be flying at the time, they take some significant damage as they hit the ground. Their carrying capacity shifts into the next worse state (normal→burdened→overloaded). The effect lingers as long as the high tension does.

Rust Flechettes burst out of the ground, lacerating the player standing or hovering over them. Damage is part normal, as they stab into exposed flesh, and part corrosion, as the unnaturally fast corrosion spreads to flesh and equipment.

Debris Slide suppresses any active flight effects as the player is buried and bludgeoned under an avalanche of rocks. The surrounding area is affected as if by Leda's Liquefaction until the player can escape.


Distilled Pain of Tartarus is the ultimate effect to lead off with. Start off with a Torment, drain mp from the player as if they wielded an antimagic weapon, drain up to a full star of piety just to make sure nobody gets by unscathed, and finally check for drained charges from any charged equipment present. Being undead or Torment-immune only blocks the first part, but if the player is already in pain (half hp or less) fall through to another case. The effect works partially due to the sudden and unexpected onset of the agony, so it does not work as well on those who are already suffering.

Suffusion of Oblivion deals heavy draining damage, which will probably do nothing because the player will have full resistances against it. Drain half max mp, some piety, and check any charged equipment for charge draining anyway.

Plague of Worms are a seething tide of tiny vermin that burrow out of the ground for mere moments before digging back in. AC will reduce the damage, but otherwise they cannot be prevented from chewing exposed flesh. Unprotected food may be ruined.

Famine drains a moderate amount of mp from every character, and if the character has a hunger clock it shifts into the middle of the next state down the scale. So a normally-satiated character with 6000 nutrition will immediately drop to hungry with around 2350 nutrition, for instance. Near starving characters will instead drop to the very top of starving, and characters who are already starving stay where they are.

Oppressive Vulnerability dispels all ongoing effects affecting the character, each one of which discharges violently (irresistible damage) as it ends over the course of the next few turns. Also, Oppressive Vulnerability deals some initial draining damage which does nothing in practice because rN+++ is full immunity.

Silence falls when Tartarus drains the very energy of sound itself, not that it bothers the demons any. This should probably have a shorter duration than the scroll or spell versions.

That's six branch-specific effects for each Hell branch, all very loosely themed around direct damage but hopefully with interesting twists. A few might be over the top or ineffectual in practice, but it's a starting point, right?

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dcss/brainstorm/dungeon/branch/hells.txt · Last modified: 2014-09-30 21:30 by infiniplex
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