Hive today: “if you can be bothered, please proceed to the Hive and pick up the food”.
For a discussion which lead to this proposal, see 1946239.
This is a much more specific proposal for the Hive branch. — dpeg 2009-12-26 01:36
New version — dpeg 2011-03-17 03:47


Currently, Hive is a trivial, but mostly tedious affair. Very few characters actually need the permafood from Hive, so they do it at their leisure for the experience and the few additional items. Some players (myself included) completely ignore Hive because it is too much hassle.

So the most basic change for repairing Hive is to tighten the food clock. See vintermann's proposal for a great start which will hopefully make it into 0.9. Additional ideas which can be employed: reduce nutrition from chunks; reduce chance for corpses; reduce number of monsters (especially irrelevant ones); increase price for food items in shops.

Once food has higher priority (for more characters than now), Hive will be valued for the nutritional loot it provides. Now, we want to make getting that loot interesting. Here I don't mean so much that many players die to bee stings, but rather that they'll get a lot less loot than now if they enter unprepared or are stingy with consumables. The idea is to turn Hive into a race against the clock: this forces players to be efficient if they want as much food as possible (e.g. preparing spells, or using consumables like potions of resistance if rPois is unavailable etc.).

Portal vault

Hives should be one type of portal vault, the “beehive”. This change alone has the following benefits:

  • We can apply different rules.
  • Players have only one take. I believe that bees are just not interesting opponents if you can approach them in the usual, slow and patient manner. However, if you cannot back up, and assuming an interesting layout without chokepoints, then matters will be more interesting.

dpeg: guaranteed, untimed portal vault

  • Guaranteed because the current branch is.
  • Untimed — this is a departure from the original proposal and makes the proposal less radical. Especially kilobyte is worried that timed Hive will expose the food-dependent character too much to the rPois roulette.
  • Therefore, announcement is not necessary.

eronarn: guaranteed, announced, timed portal vault

  • Hive is a guaranteed, announced, timed portal vault appearing in Lair:1-4.
  • This means that if you are interested in doing Lair (and who wouldn't), then you face decisions. Delay Lair to prepare better for Hive, or ignore Hive etc.
  • dpeg thinks that this is interesting, but more radical than necessary. That's why I propose the more conservative approach above.

minmay, evktalo: large non-portal vault, or serial vaults

  • Hive becomes a guaranteed floating, large vault, not a portal vault.
  • Can be combined with the mechanic of larvae eating.
  • Instead of a single large beehive, there could a serial vault.
  • Main advantage: less monotony; since it's only a portion of a normal level, there will be a few normal monsters to interrupt you while you're killing bees.
  • Drawback: fewer choices than with a portal vault. (Easier escape via teleport; you can lure the bees away; less preparation — the beehive is there, and assuming larvae eat, you have to make do with your current gear).

XuaXua: guaranteed level in Lair

  • Like Spriggan Forest with the dungeon, Hive becomes a guaranteed pestilence/food level replacing one (or two) levels of Lair 3-6
  • Combine with portions of the spider portal, as feedback suggests many skip it entirely due to rPois and little return.
  • You can try and find stairs down to skip it, unless revised to consume two levels of Lair.
  • Removes one of the varied random repetitive levels of lair, makes spider portal relevant, many usually do Hive after Lair anyway.


Using a portal vault also make it much easier (conceptually) to use different rules. The rules about larvae eating honeycombs and royal jellies is the Hive clock. If you idle for too long, all the food is already eaten. The rule about berserk bees defending their queen is to make combat a little more interesting.

  • No traps, no random items.
  • Larvae try to find food (royal jellies and honeycombs). By eating one or two of these, they will eventually turn into bees. (Say, jelly=100% chance, honeycomb=75% chance). Before that, they will not attack the player but rather flee. A larva eating is announced, just like jelly slurps. [The larvae could start also out as eggs. And If the queen is killed, larvae should go for royal jelly instead of honeycombs, turning into a new queen. (First larvae wins.)]
  • If you come near the queen, all bees in your sight will go berserk. Berserk bees act as normal, but can also sacrifice themselves, stinging the player for an extra dose of poison (which is not fully nullified by rPois).
  • The queen spawns larvae so as to keep the larvae number constant (taking into account larvae growing up and to a lesser extent also those killed by the player). Killer bee larvae give neither xp nor piety (they don't fight back anyway, they flee).
  • Layout generation should be at least somewhat random (at the very least, we could assemble the map from a number of pre-drawn subvaults).
  • The larva/eating mechanic is best explained by starting in a room with a few larvae and some honeycombs. Once one of the larva reaches and eats a honeycomb, the metamorphosis becomes obvious and the message familiar.
  • As usual, players should be able to escape safely (so the starting room contains no monsters apart from the larvae, and there is the exit portal). Also, players should always be able to pick a bit of food, even if they dawdle.
  • The current wasp chamber should be randomised in layout and 'trick' (currently: secret door over deep water). Subvaults could do this nicely. Also, the additional monsters could vary: slugs, beetles, ants, bears.

Optional mechanics

  • Introduce a new trap type, narrow tunnel, which can only be cross by tiny creatures like the bees (among player species, only spriggan and bat would qualify).
  • Depending on the maps we may or may not need an anti-telecontrol rule.


  • While I understand the need for larvae to consume royal jelly/honeycombs, combined with the other proposed changes with the food clock, there may actually make food even more scarce in the long run. My recommendation is for the Queen Bee to drop royal jellies (and/or larvae) on occasion as she moves or is killed, and for bees to randomly drop a honeycomb when killed. — XuaXua 2011-05-12 18:57
  • You can avoid a lot of the problems with balancing the hive by splitting it into multiple guaranteed portal vaults. For one of many possible ways to do this - The first hive would be standard poisonous bees and enough guaranteed food to last you through the midgame if you keep a fast pace (that is, much less than it gives now). The second hive would be down near the extraplanar dungeons and full of some mix of fire bees, pain-branded bees, bees with hallucinogenic (misleading or confusing) stings, acid (equipment corroding) bees, and a queen that reanimates or enrages her subjects - enough pain that some 3-rune characters stay away, in exchange for enough food to cautiously loot all the branch ends. Potentially, a third hive could show up in Pan with mutagenic, distortion, Chaos, and worse bees in exchange for more food to keep searching Pan for runes. But the whole hive-gluts-you-with-food problem is solved by splitting it into just two. — SquashMonster 2011-09-04 10:49
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