Name dcss:brainstorm:branch: pan
Summary Various plans to make Pan more interesting.
Added by nrook
Added on 2010-02-27 03:13

Missing pan rune levels without noticing

See 1318.

In 0.6, special messages were added for the unique Pan lord levels. You can put a force_more line for these in the init file. Should we put it on by default?

casmith789 suggests in the mantis item that exiting such level has a prompt unless you're carrying the rune. evktalo supports this.

The other suggestion is to generate the levels again. evktalo thinks it's better if you get just one shot at the rune level - it creates a greater (and more unique) challenge for the player.

Another idea: make the gate's appearance and description show what sort of a pan level you will be entering.

I hope this is the right place to put this. I think just a simple obvious statement asking whether you want to leave the level of a mighty pandemonium lord when there is no chance of return helps when going for 15 runes and hardly changes gameplay. – casmith789

Right place, and I support that suggestion, which wasn't obvious. I (hopefully) clarified the above. — evktalo 2010-04-09 23:58

godless Pan

A new idea by dpeg 2010-09-07 12:15:

Pan lords are strong, proud and godless. In particular, they are powerful enough to keep divine beings in check. There is a huge variety of how that could be implemented:

  • additional piety loss
  • plain chance that active god powers don't work (chance could depend on local Pan lord power)
  • Pan lords might have an aura disrupting passive divine powers
  • higher piety costs (gods have a harder time to reach and to help you)
  • all small piety gains (a single point) are suppressed (but higher piety gains would still go through)
  • the most radical one: all connections to gods are disabled in Pan (I like this and it has interesting ramifications — e.g. that you could break conducts without being noticed — but it might fit better for some other branch/portal vault)

What is this good for?

  • A distinction from all other branches (thematic, in my opinion).
  • Pan would be an end game branch about doing it yourself (as compared with hells, say).
  • Pan lords are already used (in an unexplained way, which is good) as task force after the player picks up the orb. I like that, and believe that the proposed change would tie in.
  • I (and I am not alone in this) support the idea of a holy Pan level. Having no gods in Pan would make the existence of Pan regions of various kinds more consistent: the Pan lords beliefs/alignments/whims/whatever are not those of gods. (Added later: this reads a bit cryptically, what I mean is this: a player following a good god should not expect friendly or neutral monsters on a holy Pan level. As with evil gods and ordinary Pan levels.)
  • There are complaints that undead branches (including Pan) are bad for certain characters (for example Deep Dwarves, Vampires and, more importantly here, followers of Yredelemnul and some other gods). This may or may not need addressing, but I like the idea of making gods equally useless in Pan better than making them equally useful.

Once we have decided on a design, this would be easy to code and immediately increase branch differentiation. Would be good to get comments from serial panners.

Here are some technical proposals for how to possibly go about a slightly-godless Pan — dpeg 2010-09-28 00:25:

  • There are two traits of certain Pan specific monsters (these could be old or new monsters, or also Pan lords):
    1. Local: Being in the vicinity of [monster] suppresses all forms of divine communication.
    2. Global: The presence of this monster on a Pan level suppresses all forms of divine communication.
  • Why?
    1. It fits the flavour nicely, if you look at it in the following way: “pandemonium” means chaos, tumult, but also infernal noise (and no, I didn't need to look this up). The monsters alluded to above make such a noise that the gods cannot hear you. (Here we are free to say that they still watch you, i.e. track piety/penance. Or not even that. Both options are interesting gameplay-wise.)
    2. We should announce the presence of such monsters via level sounds: You hear an infernal scream. if local; This place is filled with infernal noises. if global. (Adjust background noise as for Shoals etc.)
    3. In the local case, a player can try to track down the offending monster and enable divine communications again.
    4. Of the four big Pan lords, one should have the local property, and another one the global property.
    5. I believe that it is more interesting to turn god powers off in a binary fashion (rather than making god powers more expensive, for example — the latter has much harder to estimate effects, and may be better suited for ziggurats: the deeper you go, the more expensive god interaction is).
This proposal, especially the radical part is wonderfully perverse. You could even have The Shining One's followers learn and use the Regeneration spell, and other characters could have similar dirty episodes. So all those “Regeneration shouldn't be evil” players would have their wish granted, in a way. :-) Of course, I've never been to Pandemonium so what do I know… — b0rsuk 2010-09-07 20:03
Same here, including both the “love it” and the “never been there” part. :) — jpeg 2010-09-07 20:22
Complete separation from your god does seem like an interesting idea but I do think it's much more appropriate to some kind of portal vault. With complete god separation, it'd surely be a no-brainer for every character to swap to TSO, get a blessed weapon to do pan but still invest heavily in necromancy to cast regeneration and borg's, removing a really interesting tradeoff (take TSO to pan for his useful abilities and healing-on-kills or use a non-good god but be able to cast some very useful spells). Presumably you wouldn't even have to suffer wrath from your old god during the pan visit (if the gods are unable to help you in pan they certainly shouldn't be able to harm you either).
Simply interfering with passive/active abilities might be a little better, although it seems like it might have fairly significant effects on god balance depending on the types of abilities you have. For the most part, it's passive abilities that help most in pan (Makhleb/TSO healing, Kiku torment protection, Vehumet's mp regen and passive boosts to some extent — with Sif channeling and Nemelex being a bit different). In terms of active abilities though, Nemelexites would still presumably still get all the powers of their cards (unless deck usage was arbitrarily made more difficult in pan which seems harder to justify), Kiku worshippers who try and invoke for corpses to eat/sublimate could just sit somewhere safe to do that whereas a TSOite attempting to use cleansing flame in combat would be in much more danger, for example, and if Vehumet worshippers had their passive abilities interfered with you'd have your conjuration ranges keep changing which just sounds plain annoying. Perhaps just playing with models of piety gain/loss would work? I'm not sure really, it's certainly an interesting idea but seems difficult to balance. — marvinpa 2010-09-08 01:41
I had a big response typed out but I accidentally reloaded the page. I'll just summarize what I said:
1) I agree with MarvintheParanoidAndroid, and share his concerns.
2) I think that it would be better if invocations had double the piety cost in pan (say because gods don't like answering prayers from pandemonium, or they have difficulty) — removing gods entirely would mean removing a fundamental part of crawl gameplay. It would be better to instead keep them, but weaken them, if you decide to go this route. Removing gods would probably just make pan less interesting, not more. Weakening them on the other hand is fairly interesting, and might add a sense of urgency.
3) Even eviler (although harder to implement) would be to have it so demons occasionally answer your prayers in pan. This would be like a miscast or hell effect. Low level invocations would be something minor, while higher level ones would be nasty. The chance of this happening should be somewhat low though (otherwise it would be a nuisance and too predictable), and invocations like sif muna channeling should have a very low chance per use due to how often it's used.
4) Removing gods from pan would hurt TSO. He'd still be good, but not as good. There'd be less of a reason to switch gods in the extended endgame, unless you were already a follower of a good god. Furthermore, pan is one of the only places to build piety with Zin (lots of chaotic enemies), and piety is already hard enough to come by with him. — evilmike 2010-09-08 05:03
Thanks for all the responses. Now that the idea of a godless branch/vault is out, perhaps someone can come up with a fitting location.
I would be fine with Pan just playing differently (religion wise) than your ordinary branch. Piety leaking out, increased piety costs for abilities or successes computed with '3d(piety)/3' (replacing the ordinary 'piety') etc.
Regarding Nemelex: yes, you should be able to use the decks normally. Interfering with invocations and divine communication is one thing, but interfering with card play would be insane. :) However, I'd like it if Pan Nemelex would give out significantly fewer decks than usual (this shouldn't be a special Nemelex rule — this should follow from how piety (and in particular gifts) are treated in Pan in general). In other words, the decks you bring are a much more valuable commodity in Pan than elsewhere.
Here are some more randomly shot suggestions: There could be a new (or perhaps old) Pan monster (could also be a feature or item, by the way) which disables the god←→follower communication. Destroying the monster(s) (or items etc.) on a Pan level would enable them again (for this level).
I like evilmike's of Pan lords/demons answering the player. This would translate to a plain chance of god activities not working (in a thematic way, because the demon would probably answer in some way, perhaps just a message, but could also be some nasty effect). This would start with corpses: sacrificing them might not mean they end up with your blood god.
dpeg 2010-09-08 11:58
Pan lords are in a totally different league than the gods. They are merely of similar power as an xl 27 player – while gods are omnipresent entities of power that can reach any place in the world. Heck, no demon lord ability can reach farther than LOS. I wouldn't make them able to intercept prayers. — kilobyte 2010-09-08 12:26
This is mostly about flavour, and I don't think the (valid) observation that gods are stronger than pan lords necessarily kills the idea. For example: there are few gods, but countless Pan lords. Or perhaps it is not the demon lords who hamper follower–god communication but the place itself? Then again, kilobyte only talks about intercepting prayers. — dpeg 2010-09-09 18:15
In other words, Pandemonium might be demons' hideout because that's where gods can't reach.

I briefly became interested in Pandemonium, but it seems the consensus is, essentially “don't change it”. Proposals like active power interference and piety leak would hurt non-TSO gods much more than others. TSO has power for demon killing at low piety, and negative energy protection which is passive. — b0rsuk 2010-09-09 22:08

nrook's Pandemonium overhaul

Player ghosts will be made Pandemonium lords, and their domain will reflect what they did in life.

Pandemonium is currently very boring. There is no real penalty for taking as long as you like, most of the demons are essentially identical to high-level players, and the place does not have any interesting atmosphere of its own. The main attraction of the branch is the Pandemonium Lords, which pose random, dynamic threats, but the branch's structure encourages ignoring them over fighting them.

Replace Pan Lords with winning player ghosts

Winning players are generally strong and dynamic foes (after all, they managed to win the game), but there is no way for current characters to fight past winners. The current named Pandemonium Lords are very similar in flavor to the Lords of Hell, and Cerebov is the only one to gain notoriety among players; replacing them with player ghosts, who have a natural backstory (whatever they did while alive), would be a net gain in flavor.

I disagree with replacing the named Pan lords by player ghost demon lords. (If we think we need better fixed Pan lords, propose them!) But I like the idea that random Pan lords could have a chance to be made from player ghosts. — dpeg 2010-02-28 14:27
Sounds interesting, and I like the idea, but you've got to take into account that in local games, the shortage of winning characters will be even more prominent. :D — jpeg 2010-02-28 23:03

Give each Pan Lord a domain

The domain of a Pan Lord reflects its abilities in some way. For instance, a draconian winner might have a Pan level filled with dragons. The domain of each Pan Lord would consist of 3-4 subsequent levels in Pan, which would contain no other Pan Lords (or runes). This is most useful combined with the below, which would give each Pan Lord's domain unique flavor.

Draconians may be an easy example here - what of kobolds? What of kenku, or spriggans? — og17 2010-02-27 05:46

Due to the low supply of winners compared to the number of characters, Pan Lords should not disappear from the morgue until someone finally kills them.

I think they should never disappear,atleast there should be alway 10 of them in the morgue

Add demonspawn as lesser, classed enemies, whose abilities depend on those of the Pan Lord.

If the Pan Lord in question was, say, 78291, there would be demonspawn knights of 78291, demonspawn mages of 78291, demonspawn shifters of 78291, etc. The statistics and frequency of each job would depend on the stats of the Pan Lord. A melee fighter would have lots of fighters, with a few crusaders, reavers, etc. A conjurer would have a few weak melee fighters, many powerful conjurers, and some miscellaneous spellcasters. A stealth-based character might have naturally invisible stalkers, etcetera.

Demonspawn let players get a taste of the Pan Lord's nature before actually fighting it. For instance, if a character goes up against a ton of self-buffing melee demonspawn, he knows there is probably a crusader at the end, and can prepare accordingly. If a demonspawn casts Firestorm, the player will suddenly become very nervous about the Pan Lord, who is likely a very powerful conjurer.

Adding demonspawn has a few ancillary benefits, too. It provides a bunch of non-demons on which necromancers can work their magic. It presents varied challenges to different players. A player might see demonspawn who are weak in general (the L16 SpWr winner) or against his specific character, and decide to delve a bit into Pan, even if he normally wouldn't have done so.

The structure of Pandemonium would now be:

(Dungeon) → (Domain of the first pandemonium lord) → (First rune) → (Domain of second) → (Second rune) etc.

In general, the first Pan Lord should be weaker than the second, who should be weaker than the third, etc. There should be a finite number of these Lords, just to prevent a powerful character from slaughtering tens of winning players and creating a Pan Lord shortage. (3 or 4 sounds like a good number. There could be more random ones with non-unique or no runes afterward, or Pan could be turned into a finite branch.) The domain of the first pandemonium lord should be around the difficulty level of Vault:8 or Slime:6, in order to encourage branch variety among 3-rune characters; for the same reason, Pan should be easier to exit, to allow weaker characters to “check it out.” Being difficult to escape is the Abyss's shtick, anyway.

I don't really like the fundamental concept here at all, as it's rather self-congratulatory - there may certainly be merit in using winning characters as templates to generate pan levels, but it should be done quietly, as opposed to plastering that player's name all over the level. — og17 2010-02-27 05:33

Have to agree with og17 here. We should start with player ghost-like Pan lords in the mildest way possible. — dpeg 2010-02-28 14:27

dpeg's Pandemonium overhaul

There have been some ideas for a better Pan over the years. Here they are:

  • Random Pan lords become stronger (randomly, of course), as you keep pilfering Pan.
  • Demonspawn monsters, again with the randomness this brings.
  • Given the plethora of new holy monsters (that are planned for 0.8), I'd really like to see a holy Pan lord. (I can come up with a backstory, and I think that a holy Pan lord makes a lot more sense than a holy Hell branch, say.)
  • Godless Pan is a not fully radical version. It would be cool if the player had to solve some situations without divine help.
  • Radically different layouts. This is hard to achieve, but one start would be this: level size could be random, and vary drastically. A Pan level might be as small as 30×30! With such a small size, they could have very different forms, too.

DrPraetor's Pandemonium overhall

  • +1 on dpeg's suggestions.
  • Each pan level should do something nasty to you, if it has a pan lord on it (killing the pan lord makes this stuff stop):
    • Cerebov's level should spawn fire-based monsters really fast through all the portals. And they should know where you are. And they should hunt you down and kill you while you are whimpering in a closet somewhere recovering from the savage beating Cerebov just gave you (Cerebov shouldn't do this himself, though).
    • On Gloorx Vloq's level you should hunger really, really fast. If you have no hunger clock, you rot.
    • Mnoleg's level should have twisted space, and it should slowly spawn more teleport traps as time goes on. If you wait forever to kill Mnoleg you'll have to dig through walls in order to avoid teleporting every step. Failure should be an option.
    • On Lom Lobon's level, spellcasting should be more difficult (eqv. -1 wizardry), miscast effects should be two steps more severe. Divine miscast protection should be a help here, but this needs to be tuned numerically not to make Lom Lobon require Sif Muna's help to be stopped.
    • The holy pan lord hands out points of good-deity wrath (you can luck out and just have Ely lecture you), which you get to keep when you leave. Thank you for visiting the shining halls.
  • Random Pan Lords get a cloud type (to which they and their designated follower-demons should probably be immune), which spawns on 20% of the spaces on their level every turn as long as they are alive. Choices are mephitic, fire, ice, poison, mutagenic or miasma.
  • Alternatively, everything on the level, except the Lord itself, is being “tormented” somehow every few turns. Magic resistance negates, but choices are Confusion, Slow, Petrification, Paralyzation, Sleep or Fear/Pain (which would be just pain for you). I like this myself since it emphasizes that Pandemonium is a horrible place, but I worry that it is too similar to a hell effect.

Pandemonium to Other Realms


Endgame is uniformly evil and demonic (and bereft of corpses), which restricts the number of combos that are viable for it. Therefore, I suggest that the Pandemonium concept (endless random levels, one-way gates) is expanded to include other level types. (The name of the whole thing should be Other Realms (or something), and Pandemonium would be just one part of it).

Level types

PandemoniumAs now. All demonic.
ElysiumHoly level type.
Faerieland/ArcadiaNature+magic theme, full of magical beings, beasts and illusions.
SvartálfaheimrA home of deep dwarves. Because the dwarves don't regenerate, a level where you can't leave, heal up or stock up, and come back to continue where you left the monsters, would be fitting. (Also assumed is that the layout doesn't allow this within the level).

(norse mythology might be a good source for Other Realms level types in general)

Each type could also have subtypes. For instance, there could be less randomness in pan level monster sets, and they could also be tied to layout types and other level features. Eronarn's Demonic Monster Overhaul points to this. KiloByte recently committed code that enables(?) defining monster sets for Pan levels.


Some gates should advertise which level type/subtype they lead to. Rune levels especially. Some should just say they're a gate to “another realm”. Ideally, players could enter the other realms and then dive for a level type that they could handle. But all gates need not tell where they lead. Some excitement in uncertainty.

Of course, only five rune levels are generated within a game in the Other Realms, just like the Swamp/Snake/Shoals roulette. Which realms have runes left should be advertised somehow. (OTOH, if all five runes are pan runes, and the player has a build that doesn't do well in there.. it's a bit random.)

KoboldLord's Overhaul

As I perceive it, the biggest problem with Pandemonium as it presently exists is that the player can take it at leisure. If you clear a safe room, preferably in a cul-de-sac, it will usually remain safe. You can pick off a single fiend at a time until only the Pan Lord remains, and then you can either kill or evade that. If a level seems too hard to be worthwhile, you can always bail out through the portal to the next Pan level.

Contrast with Hell, which regularly drops monsters for the player to fight or evade no matter where the player runs to lick their wounds. Recovery methods for either hp or mp are very important, and there is no part of the trip that is boring with even a very powerful character because you could face powerful adversaries at any moment no matter how much you've been weakened.

In my proposal, Pandemonium embodies the concept of senseless violence. The reality of the dungeon walls of these infinite worlds is literally made up of this abstract concept, and if you spend too much time peacefully Pandemonium will recognize you as Something That Is Not Pandemonium and reject you. If you are rejected in this way, you get dumped onto the next Pan level where there a whole host of new monsters have been generated to attack you. There are no exit portals to the next Pan level; exit portals to the Abyss and Dungeon are as rare as always, but the player has no direct control over getting to the next Pan level.

When tension remains high, play proceeds as normal, but if the player allows tension to drop to zero Pan will display a series of messages suggesting that the local section of Pan is crumbling. If this runs to completion without seeking out more tension, the player is dumped into the next Pan level involuntarily, missing out on any remaining treasure and xp on the level. The timer should be short enough to make it impossible to rest to full health between fights, but not so short that another fight cannot be found if you run headlong into unexplored areas. Leaving a few imps alive to buzz around while you rest does not constitute sufficient tension. If lack of tension causes you to miss out on a unique Rune because you spent too much time cowering in a corner, too bad.

The desired play style for Pan would be to run through the level without stopping to rest, killing whatever gets in your way and looting whatever you can find while still under fire. Carefully turtling forward from a safe fortress can be left back in the main Dungeon. Ideally, you get a different message on transit to the next Pan level depending on whether you got zero tension by cowering in a corner (Pandemonium rejects your passivity! The fabric of reality crumbles around you!) or by killing nearly everything on the level (As Gloorx Vloq dies at your hands, the world he created begins to shudder and crumble!). An aggressive and successful player would literally kill several small worlds (of violence and evil, so it's okay) before getting all five Runes.

Naturally, this proposal will happily co-exist with most other proposals that have been outlined above, such as Godless Pan, Holy Pan, and others. — koboldlord 2011-02-15 17:49

I like the sound of this, especially the flavour (Pandemonium == a realm of senseless violence). I'm not sure about losing runes to a timer though. Perhaps the unique runes could reappear on another Pan level? If their owner was still alive, they would appear as well. — evktalo 2011-02-16 11:49
Hell and abyss already push the player, not sure why Pan needs to be identical. Also not sure why the branch should be tailored to characters that can breeze through it while penalizing those that already struggle, or how this basic objection of leisure is Pan-specific, as every other area in the game has the same “problem.” — og17 2011-02-16 19:22
I'm not sure what your objection is. There is no shortage of levels in the game where the player slowly turtles forward from a position of absolute safety. For the post-endgame, however, there is nothing to save your resources for, so the game is free to be a little more demanding. If there's a chance of failure, success is more rewarding. From my play experience, I judge current-Hells to be better designed than current-Pan specifically because Hells demand careful play, rather than just extending more of the same. My proposal would hopefully allow Pan to demand careful play without simply copying what Hells did right. — koboldlord 2011-02-16 22:12
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dcss/brainstorm/dungeon/branch/pan.txt · Last modified: 2011-12-22 18:56 by XuaXua
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