Name dcss:brainstorm:branch: swamp
Summary Brainstorm for ideas to make swamp more interesting and less annoying.
Further information
Added by dpeg
Added on 2009-12-08 05:06

The current Swamp is hated by most (but not all!) and generally considered the “most annoying branch”. Each of the following proposals is controversial. Note that on top of settling these issues, we also have to keep an eye on balance between Shoals versus Swamp. The original ideas was

  • Swamp gives substantially more experience than Shoals.
  • Shoals give better loot (actually good items).
  • Both branches profit from levitation/flight but Swamp puts emphasis on rPois and Clarity whereas Shoals needs Evasion (ranged attacks).


There are wildly diverging ideas of what Swamp should be about. Let me just say that removal is not an option: the branch has unique layout, flavour and threat. We will change it, not axe it. The following are opinions expressed by players.

  • Swamp is annoying because auto-explore does not work. This forces us to play slow and makes the whole affair more tedious than necessary.
  • Swamp is annoying because the monsters are designed to annoy: wisps, submergers etc.
  • Swamp is annoying because it is so uniform: five levels of always the same.
  • Swamp is annoying because you feel you want to speed dive (so annoying!) yet can't do that (the items and xp!!).
  • Swamp is interesting because it poses a unique challenge, especially to melee fighters.

This leads to completely different approaches when it comes to speed-diving:

  • Encourage (or even enforce) speed-diving: e.g. no items at all, no monsters worthy of xp apart from Swamp:5.
  • Make speed-diving impossible: cluster stairs and place < and > as distant as possible from each other.
  • For comparison, here are comments about some related branches:
    • Hells: idling is strictly bad because of hell effects (and there's no loot).
    • Slime: fully exploration is quite worth it in xp; it might just be too risky.
    • (new) Swamp: full exploration is not worth much but not downright harmful.


  • dpeg: Change terrain to have 50% water only on Swamp:1. The amount of water should increase per level so that Swamp:5 looks as now. (Or Swamp:5 could have even more water than now.)
    • I like the idea of Swamp:1 starting at 50% and Swamp:4 having the same water:land ratio as now, since Swamp:5 focuses on the rune vault. Giving Swamp:5 even more water (maybe even 100%, outside the vault?) could also be interesting, (as long as it doesn't adversely affect any branch endings), forcing non-magical non-evoking players to conserve those potions of levitation and use them tactically, or take refuge on the solid land in the rune vault. — Wensleydale 2011-06-13 23:07
  • borsuk: Lots of LoS-obstructing fog would be a good general feature for Swamp.
    • Idea: Simply using fog would obscure the terrain and probably make Swamps even harder to perceive. I wonder if we could simulate the swamp mist by varying the LOS. The LOS wouldn't need to be a uniform circle, but it could be “eroded”, changing like clouds on the edge. — evktalo 2009-12-08 09:52
    • I disagree. Using fog (or rather the new thin mist cloud) will achieve the exact same effect and be much more transparent about what is going on. — jpeg 2009-12-14 17:16
      • Using clouds obstructs the terrain, which is bad in Swamp. — evktalo 2010-03-04 13:09
  • borsuk: For Lair layouts, I strongly recommend the thread on rec.games.roguelike.development “Yet Another Dungeon Generation Algorithm” is surpsingly nice-looking, and you can manipulate the two variables to achieve a variety of styles. See images, especially those in later posts. The author provided implementations in C and C++. http://groups.google.com/group/rec.games.roguelike.development/browse_thread/thread/4c56271970c253bf/b03d812608ab5680?lnk=gst&q=yet+another+dungeon#b03d812608ab5680
  • borsuk: Hive, Snake Pit, Swamp are much more fun when you're forced to explore them without perfect equipment. Some people prefer the easy route and wait until later. But for people who enjoy these branches, why not make them longer for early explorers? You could have a portal-vault like effects with messages about Swamp or Hive caving in. If you enter it too late, it's described as “partially caved in” and shortened to X levels:
    • There are Hive/Swamp portal vaults which are timed, the timer based on total turncount? (Here, being quick gives additional levels.)
    • Alternatively, if you've been idling (in terms of total turncount), the branch gets shorter. (Here, being slow removes levels.)


  • dpeg: No items, no traps, no shops. Vaults are possible and contain huts, even with a shop, or dens to some beast etc.
  • borsuk: Some item types would never be generated in Swamp: no scrolls, no potions, no ammumition (these types would easily decay); ideally no wooden items either. As for shops: witches' huts (only scrolls, potions, wands and jewellery). This would mean no armour, no weapons, no general stores.



Possible new frogs:

  • Limnonectes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limnonectes), “fanged frogs”. Specifically have a biting attack.
  • Poison dart frogs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dart_frog), highly poisonous/curare attacking frogs. This could possibly be split further to a contact curare attack, and
  • Ranged frog, another type of frog with a ranged, poison spit (can't find names of any actual, poison-spitting frogs, but they do exist). Slow, but with a normal action speed.
  • Tree frog A frog that, in some way, lives in trees. It could merge with trees and become invincible like a rock worm, but at the above-average speed that characterizes frogs this would be very obnoxious. Total missile-deflection (but not melee invulnerability) while on a tree would be an interesting ability here; characters would be forced to close to the frogs to fight them.
Frogs of the sleek and poisonous type dwell in rainforests and the like; they're unfitting for a swamp-themed area. “Reality of Crawl” and all that, sure, but as they're real-world creatures, it'd seem out of place. — og17 2010-02-27 03:18
Adding poisonous frogs would make Swamp more similar to Snake Pit (poison), and spider. I'm a fan of rock worms, so I like the tree frog (or other creature; but frogs have room) idea. — evktalo 2010-03-01 19:42
I think a more direct concern is that since Swamp already has mephitic and poison clouds, adding more poisonous enemies would be redundant, as the player's unlikely to be in the branch without resistance. Curare or other effects are still interesting, though. — og17 2010-03-01 22:41


  • Panthers. Is Crawl's lack of cats intentional? Panthers would break swamp's current cold-blooded stranglehold. They could retreat to trees when wounded, gaining the properties of the above-mentioned “tree frog,” and also be able to blink short distances from trees to the player, perhaps as part of an attack (“pouncing”), giving the monster both defensive and offensive terrain-based abilities. I'm thinking they'd be about as common as shoal's alligator snapping turtles, give or take - their gimmicks would likely become tiresome if overused. — og17 2010-02-27 04:40
  • Kelpies: In myth, kelpies are aquatic horses that lurk in lakes and rivers. They entice victims to come and pet them, at which point the kelpie's adhesive skin prevents their prey from escaping. The kelpie then drags them down into the water, drowning them (this last part we can ignore :P). In gameplay terms, the kelpie would be amphibious, spawning submerged in water but willing to come out of the water to attack the player. Its melee attacks would be adhesive, and upon hitting the player once the player would become bonded to the kelpie. Once bonded, the kelpie would then attempt to drag the player into the nearest square of shallow water, but could fail to drag depending on the strength of the player. While bonded, the player gets an EV penalty. While bonded and over a shallow water square, even flying/levitating players act as though they are standing in the water rather than floating over it. The player may continue to attack the kelpie while bonded, but can also attempt to break free from the kelpie by moving in another direction, with success chance based on strength. Once they have dragged the player into the water, kelpies resume attacking. There are two ways to go with this monster: either the kelpie could be a legitimate danger in its own right, with its attack being more powerful when the player is in water (like swamp worms), or kelpies could primarily incapacitate/debuff the player (fumbling in water, restricted movement, EV penalties) making other swamp monsters more of a threat. I feel like this latter option is more interesting, but then we might want to ensure that kelpies spawn near enemies able to take advantage of the debuffs that the kelpie provides (swamp worms, hydras, etc.). — Wensleydale 2011-06-13 22:01
  • Dragonfly. (green y) A fast predator, non venomous. Perhaps able to deflect (or dodge) missiles due to its natural ability to move the air around (or moving really fast) (by Roderic)
  • Tsetse fly: (dark grey y) Like a mosquito but induces sleep when biting. (by Roderic)
  • Hag: Essentially based on green hag from D&D. Swamp dwellers. Possibly water ogresses, a variety of ogre mage less tough but with spellcasting abilities who live isolated in some pond or river. Also one of the few native monsters which can wield weapons (by Roderic)



  • borsuk: For monsters, I'm not sure what in particular people consider annoying. Mosquitoes and blowflies are nasty (they keep your health low), but easily killed. I think they should remain. Water creatures are some of the most annoying creatures in Crawl. I propose to remove all water creatures from Swamp except for Swamp Worms (because they matter). Slime creatures and wisps can be frustrating, but Slime Creatures are actually quite deadly in there - often you're forced to fight in open area, this is easily avoided in other branches. I don't like wisps, but I guess they should stay to keep conjurers on their toes. (Some places have to be challenging for conjurers, right?) Swamp Drake is the monster that supposedly causes players to only enter Swamp with PR — but clarity works just fine. With just clarity, you discover how incredibly deadly Swamp Dragons's poison cloud is. I think swamp drakes can be taken care of with wands, no Clarity or PR. And yes, Swamp could use more hydras since early levels.
  • borsuk: I think it may be justified to just cut Swamp Drakes. They're the main reason people avoid Swamp without rPois. When you start getting hit by one, it's like paralysis without a chance to resist. Swamp Dragons's poison does stack and does terrifying damage, but it's not immediately lethal and you have a couple of turns to drink that potion of healing. And often you can move away or blink. Swamp Drake is much more prohibitive.
  • squashmonster: The monsters are annoying. Far too many fleeing/submerging/wisping monsters. Even avoiding them is annoying since you can't travel reliably in a level full of still-alive monsters. Proposal: Dilute the annoying enemies with some plain old bruisers. Yes, more hydras, but the swamps could stand to have a few unique enemies. My suggestions are mushrooms, alligators, and carnivorous plants. To keep up with the idea that all new monsters should be unique, suggestions for each of them — these are all deadly, tricky, and possibly annoying monsters, but they're also easy to clear out. None retreat, submerge, or anything else that means dealing with them repeatedly on cleared levels:
    • Mushrooms could include the current wandering mushrooms, though I'm iffy about adding more confusion to swamps. I'd also like to see a non-confusing, hard-hitting mushroom that uses the wandering mushroom's AI and comes in groups. Coming in groups means they can clog up escape routes handily.
    • Alligators could just be plain physical bruisers, but to keep them interesting I suggest that on a successful hit they take a step away and pull their victim into their old space. They wouldn't be allowed to drag you into deep water, but would gladly drag you into shallow water or out of your choke point. It's unintuitive, but I'd suggest that alligators can't swim, or at the very least can't submerge. They're supposed to be a relatively straightforward fight.
    • Carnivorous plants would of course be immobile physical bruisers, but this is an unfair advantage to everyone who doesn't rely on melee. So, I suggest they have grasping vines that act as a ranged version of the alligator's pull attack. The vines hurt a little and pull a lot: their melee attack just hurts a lot. Of course, positioning some deep water between you and the plant means being safe from the pulling, but the players should be encouraged to do that. Or, if that proves too easy for ranged characters, they could be allowed to pull the player through deep water so long as they're pulled all the way through to something they can stand on again. That could make for some nasty ambushes when you're pulled out of your room.
  • minmay: Some general suggestions for making Swamp monsters less annoying and more dangerous:
    • Remove submerge. Completely. Yes, this makes the obviously harmless aquatic creatures (swamp worm, big fish, giant goldfish, shark, lava fish, lava worm) even more obviously harmless, but it also makes them a lot less annoying to kill. The genuinely dangerous submergers (electric eel, sea snake, alligator, lava snake) will remain as dangerous as before, perhaps more so.
    • Remove max HP loss from vampiric attacks, (done) but make giant leeches much faster (at least speed 12) and increase their damage.
    • Remove blink from insubstantial wisps (both the spell and the melee brand). This way they can surround the player.
    • Remove death curses from bog mummies. Give them a stronger direct attack such as Bolt of Cold.
    • Increase the frequency of vapours?


  • Each Swamp level has exactly one (white) pair of staircases. (If we want to keep three white stairs, we could simply place them in a cluster.) Map generation should try to place upstairs far apart from downstairs.
  • Each Swamp levels gets a rather large (random) number of (known and secret) shafts and escape hatches.
  • tapicell: Standing on a square that is shallow water or next to any water has a fixed chance of sucking to the next level (tapicall's sinkholes). Sinking could have a delay (during which you can do all actions but move). Sinking could reduce your health (so simply sinking your way to Swamp:$ may not be the wisest move).
  • kotk: Make the layout more like other large open areas/vaults, so it is impossible to speed-dive. No hatches whatsoever. Up stairs near left edge and down stairs near right edge for example (like foot-bridges) and deep water generally near edges.
Logged in as: Anonymous (VIEWER)
dcss/brainstorm/dungeon/branch/swamp.txt · Last modified: 2012-10-02 05:01 by infiniplex
Recent changes RSS feed Donate Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0 Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki