Portals Feedback & Proposals

General Discussion


Portal vaults are optional branches (usually) consisting of a single level. Once entered and left again, a portal vault disappears for good, so you only have one chance to breach it. In addition, many portals are timed or have a condition that must be met (e.g. entry fee) before permitting entrance. With only one level, portal vaults can and should be highly themed, and may even have their own rules and restrictions completely different from the rest of the dungeon.

Also, any new branch should first be coded as a single-level portal vault and, if successful, can later be extended on.

You want to design a portal vault but don't know how to go about it? Have a quick look at bazaar.des, sewer.des, icecave.des, then read bits of docs/leveldesign.txt and then start going. If you have no experience with vault design, you might want to first try your hand with entry vaults or alternatives to existing vaults. If you get stuck you can send the maps over the mailing list or to dploog or evktalo.

There are advantages and drawbacks of using portal vaults. They don't solve all problems and, in fact, they can create some.

  • Advantages:
    • You can change rules. This can make for interesting tactical situations.
    • You can provide lots of flavour (tiles, colour, speech). This helps, particularly with early portal vaults (as these are exciting content for players who don't get to see the later parts of the game.)
    • The presence of the portal itself can create interesting choices (timed or not; announced or not; requires some condition to enter etc.).
    • Regular vaults can be waited out: you don't enter them when they appear, but when you're strong enough.
    • No stairscumming, since the portal vault is gone if you leave.
  • Disadvantages:
    • They encourage spoilers. (So vault designers should try to make portal vaults which cannot be spoiled. At a minimum, make it easy to leave — no death traps!)
    • Regular vaults can (like branches) be waited out. If too much content (i.e. loot and xp) is in portal vaults, this removes strategic flexibility. (This is why branches should in general not become portal vaults.)
    • Timed portal vaults tend to make strong players stronger (as those will enter and reap the rewards). This is different from good/bad luck in other parts of the game (generation of good/bad vaults, finding good items etc.) as these are independent of each other and the player. A game with very many timed portal vaults will tend to reward the strongest players — power spiral alert! Counter-measures are: providing some loot half-way; providing attacks that naturally scale with the player; finding threats that are skew to the player.
      • I don't think the loot spiral is a particularly big concern; to an extent, it can be seen as compensation for removing two levels from Lair and Hive. — ogaz 2010-05-04 02:08
        • You are correct about loot spiral (you could say removing ordinary levels enables addition of portal vault loot), but the above is about how portal vaults tend to reward the already strong characters, who can benefit from the one-time opportunity. — evktalo 2010-05-16 10:22

In this sense, here is my (dpeg's) opinion on the existing portal vaults:

  • labyrinths: good. (The challenge is starvation; the minotaur is a very well-defined threat.)
  • bazaars: good (They create choices about using money; no threats apart from getting there in time.)
  • sewers: okay (They do slightly fall into the power spiral, but there's not so much loot or xp to gain.)
  • ossuaries: problematic (Some of them, including vaults by me, go overboard with loot. Finding an ossuary should not solve your early game.)
  • baileys: problematic (As for ossuaries, only with more loot.)
  • volcanoes: problematic (Although these seem to have less loot than baileys.)
  • troves: good (With the upcoming mechanic, these will provide a plain choice without drawbacks.)
  • ziggurats: good (They are untimed, so it's all up to the player.)

Autoinscribe Unknown Loot

It would be nice if loot from portal vaults, especially early ones like Sewer, Ossurary, Bailey was autoinscribed to indicate its origin. Loot items are typically of higher quality, and you can probably expect rotting, confusion, slowing in Ossuary. Identifying these items should be high priority. It makes me a bit uneasy that players benefit from spoilers. — b0rsuk 2010-08-16 21:00 This was done, then removed, then put back in into descriptions rather then inscriptions. End result seems to work fine. — claws 2011-11-10 15:18

How about making the scrolls/potions from portal vaults the same as the scrolls/potions found outside of them? This gets rid of that particular spoiler advantage. After all, non-portal vaults have random loot and it works great; portal vaults can have the same. (There would probably be a few exceptions; volcanoes and ice caves can keep their flaming/freezing armour/weapons/books as they're what you'd intuitively expect anyway, and then there are some wizlabs, but I don't see any benefit at all from the custom scroll/potion lists that sewers, ossuaries and baileys use.) — minmay 2011-11-10 22:25

Entrance Description Clarification / Spice-Up

from og17

Currently, portal vault entries have descriptions like “a dark tunnel” or “a sand-covered staircase.” These vague names are useless if you don't already know what's on the other side - they should be more like “a glowing sewer drain,” “a sand-covered ossuary staircase,” “a dark volcanic tunnel,” “a wizard's magic portal,” “an ice cave's frozen archway,” and so on.

Granted, this is all in the extended descriptions already, but I guess people don't look at those (as 2301 shows), and they shouldn't really have to anyway.

Names like this would also be more in line with older functional descriptions like “a labyrinth entrance” or “a staircase to the swamp” - though those wouldn't be hurt by some flavor adjectives of their own, as they're comparatively pretty dull. “An engraved labyrinth entrance,” “A misty staircase to the swamp,” etc.

Good timer messages would also be welcome. — evktalo 2010-09-09 17:11

Description Brainstorm

  • Sewer (currently: A glowing drain)
  • Ossuary (currently: A sand-covered staircase)
  • Bailey
  • Spider's Nest: “cobwebbed tunnel”, “Hundreds of tiny spiders are industriously weaving layers of cobwebs over this tunnel; eventually they will cover it so thoroughly that it will be impossible to gain entrance.” minmay
  • Ice Cave (currently: A frozen archway)
  • Volcano (currently: A dark tunnel)
  • Bazaar
  • Wizlab

Closed Portal Descriptions

ionfrigate raised a Mantis FR suggesting descriptions for timed-out portals: https://crawl.develz.org/mantis/view.php?id=5804

Scale Maps to Depth

Certain types of portal vault (particularly ice caves, baileys, spiders' nests) vary hugely in difficulty depending on the map you get. However, it appears that all maps can appear at any depth the portal vault is available at - for example I recently entered the ghost moth spiders' nest on Lair:1 - almost no character could deal with a fast, invisible, MP-draining enemy at that point (presumably this is the reason for the warnings on the doors in that map, but that's quite a clunky solution). There should be some way of making the map you get appropriate for the depth. — marvinpa 2010-09-14 19:10

Something I've planned for Ice Caves is simply to have ice_cave_easy and ice_cave_hard destinations, and make the portal in the entry vault go to one of them according to depth. This is similar to how Baileys have bailey_axe and bailey_polearm maps. It should also be possible to tag a map both ice_cave_easy and ice_cave_hard, and adjust it according to which one it picked (or checking you.absdepth to a similar effect). — evktalo 2010-09-14 19:54

I've done this for Ice Caves. — evktalo 2011-03-03 19:04
With the current implementation, people tend to get easy caves. Each new level at appropriate depth that is entered gets a chance of containing a portal. Thus, there are many rolls for easy caves before the player enters the depth for hard ones, and the player can only get one Ice Cave, easy or hard. There are some possibilities: decide at game start if and at what level portals will be generated (like overflow altars); make easy and hard ice caves different portal vaults (so you could get both); … I like the first idea. I suppose it'd have the side effect of distributing portal vaults more evenly on their respective depth ranges. (I don't think there's a point of making a special case out of the ice caves here.) — evktalo 2011-03-09 08:48


Candidates for “hard” baileys (although this might overlap with the division between axe and polearm(/crossbow) baileys: bailey_axe_minmay_hex_keep, with a orc warlord; bailey_polearm_2, with many crossbow orcs; bailey_polearm_3, with deep elves; and bailey_polearm_5, with masses of reaching orcs in an open space. Considering the bailey spawning range of D:7 to D:16 and Orc, I prepose pushing their spawning chances to D:14-16 and Orc so that the average character entering them will be post-Lair. — claws 2011-11-10 14:46


The short timer for unannounced portals should start ticking when you see a square that belongs to the vault, instead of when you see the portal itself. Right now you can recognize the entry vault and back away to prepare more carefully. However, there's a few caveats:

  • There needs to be a message when the fast counter starts ticking (see this tavern thread for ideas and discussion).
  • There are vaults which can have a square that is indistinguishable from an ordinary rock wall, and is situated e.g. like this:
x = a rock wall
X = a rock wall belonging to the entry vault; seeing it starts the fast counter
O = the portal to the portal vault


So, the entrance is actually on the other side of the wall, but the fast counter starts ticking regardless. It probably needs a new KMASK thingy for marking squares in an entry vault to not start the fast counter. — evktalo 2011-03-26 18:52


For a portal vault, don't use entry vaults; simply spawn the portal on the edge of LOS when exploring. Erase the portal if player gets out of LOS or waits over n turns. — evktalo 2010-04-03 18:31

Existing Portals


From [Mantis>3329]: giant mosquitoes were nice flavour; re-adding them as a Sewer-specific monster might be nice. Should reduce their attack power from before (was 10) and use them more freely. Rename them “sewer mosquitoes” or something instead of “giant”. — evktalo 2011-03-09 08:48

Rework Branches as Portals

Some existing branches, especially short ones, might work better as portal vaults.

    • This seems to be almost done, but due to a variety of bugs and crashes involving emerging from the abyss into a reset portal vault as well as converting saves, it'd been delayed until portal vault code is cleaned up (by, as was last seen, Kilobyte). — claws 2011-11-10 15:19
  • Hall of Blades (See 2276384)

New Portal Proposals

Radiant Caverns

Suggested in 2859069, taken up by lamil.

'Deep within the dungeon, there is rumored to be a cavern filled with so
much valuables, that it makes the Orcish Mines look petty. The cavern was
filled with radiant crystals and sculptures crafted from them by a
civilization long gone. It was said that something happened to that
civilization, driving them out of the caverns and into the outside world.
Since then, the caverns have not been seen, until now.'

The Radiant Caverns (extremely tentative name) would be a late game portal
vault. It would appear somewhere around when the player would be ready for
Zot, say, D:23-27. The Radiant Caverns would be filled with tougher
creatures that the player would not have been likely to have seen, such as
ball lightning, elements, golems, demons, and (maybe) some Zot creatures.
The Caverns would also have 'mutagenic' creatures, such as shapeshifters,
choas spawn, and pulsating lumps, which would fit into the main theme of
the portal vault: mutations and glow.

As the player lingers in the vault, the mutagenic crystal walls (fire and
ice shooting monster should be somewhat common to utilize them) would cause
the player to accumulate glow. A fast player would be able to scrap the
barest minimum of loot from the vault, but only get high levels of glow,
whereas a normal run might cause the player to get at least one or two bad

To balance the glow effects, the vault should have a high chance of at
least one or two cure mutation potions, which gives the player an
interesting dilemma when deciding to enter the vault: Are their current
mutations bad enough that they would want to risk going through the vault
for the cure mutation potions? Would they be willing to risk other
mutations for a cure for their current ones? Would the gear be worth
getting mutated? Should they try and grab the first things they see, or
search for the better, hidden treasure? Also going with the glow theme,
most randarts generated in the portal vault should have the mutagenic glow
property, but otherwise be of good quality to go with the theme of
mutations versus rewards.

Suggested alternative names:

  • Plutonic Caverns
  • Radiant Ruins
  • With the acidic walls in 0.7, I'm thinking that adding walls that cause glow to adjacent beings isn't too difficult to add. Since the pastebin in the SF FR has expired, I sent a message to lamil via SF for the map. — evktalo 2010-05-16 10:42
  • I was just thinking about making a feature request for a shapeshifter portal, that would have the father for all shapeshifters and he would be able to shapeshift between unique monsters and bosses. Some bosses should be prohibited tho I guess, like any demonic bosses. I was also thinking along the lines of having the layout of the level change regularly, for example when you enter it's like an ice cavern and the shapeshifters can only shift into monsters in the ice-family, then the layout switches to a fiery red and you will be facing fire-family monsters. You could also have a slime layout and thus slimefamily monsters, same for undead or electrical. And an electrical layout could send out small static discharges occassionally, and actually all different layouts could have some effect that matches its flavour. — rkd 2010-10-04 12:33
  • A second thought about the “shapeshifter father AKA The shapeless one” he could also be the father of the killer klowns (different mother than shapeshifters ;D) so the portal inhabitants could be shapeshifters, killer klowns and eyes and the shapeless one has a klown attack and is able to summon shapeshifters. And again with the regularly changing layout (fire, fire clouds, ice, freezing clouds, electrical, static discharge, acid, well acid, and a normal dungeon layout aswell perhaps.) A shapeshifter portalvault or minor branch is quite fun to work with seeing as shapeshifters can be basically anything, then the vault can be basically anything aswell. — rkd 2010-10-04 17:01


Suggested in 2834739:

A colosseum is a place where fights among groups of monsters are organized
and where the player can join a group and bet they will be able to beat the
others in a small tournament. Betting can only be done once and the player
can choose to join any of small number of “teams” to challenge the colosseum.


By dploog:

Oh, I was thinking of undisclosed factions: You'd see a portal vault to a
Colliseum (what's the proper spelling anyway?) but you won't see who's
fighting. If you enter, you get to see that and you will have to make a
choice between siding with one faction or siding with the other faction or
bailing out (in the latter case, the portal vault is gone for good,
however). Also, it would be really nice if the factions were so strong (in
power, not necessarily in numbers) that you cannot easily win the fight
alone. So that hasting or healing or berserking your allies is of good use.

By poop:

Bets could work as follows: you surrender gold+items worth your part of the
bet before the battle starts. You can leave through your arena's starting
gate to escape if you're losing, but doing so forfeits these items
permanently. Leaving the battle would sting even more if you knew what the
loot was before entering.

By anonymous:

You win, you get the items back AND their gold value.

you lose, you don't have to worry about them. You forfeit, you live, but
your bet is gone.

By not being able to bet gold, you can't exponentially increase your bets,
you would need to actually find the shops to exploit AND make it back here
to bet the items.

Alternatively, the arena is a one-shot deal. you can participate all you
want when coming in, but leaving once seals it off.

By dploog:

Betting your own items or gold sounds cool.
I am assuming this is a portal vault. So you would have only one try. (In
fact, there could be stages, increasing bets as long as your faction wins
– but once you're out the colosseum is gone for good.)

And again, by dploog:

I suggest the following modus: The game sets up two factions. Each faction
is lead by a Pan lord (and the Pan lord's name is also the name of the
faction). Factions are not too numerous, say between 3 and 16 monsters,
apart from the leader. Factions are comprised of themed sets, similar as
for ziggurats. One faction should be decidedly weaker (use arena fights to
check this) and the player will always join that faction (instead of being
The player can bet before going to battle. This is done by handing over up
to three items, If his factions is victorious, the rewards are copies of
the items (if non-randarts) or newly made randarts of the same type. Should
the player leave the battle, the items are gone, of course.
No matter whether the players bet or not, there will be a reward in the
form of gold and sometimes items the other factions left.

We need to make sure that the player will not attack his own faction (in
order to get some nice item). I think that attacking a team member should
lead to all monsters attacking the player and additionally, more (“guard”)
monsters should come in from everywhere.

The Dreamsmoke Pits

Suggested by Ero in 1923321:

The Dreamsmoke Pits is the part of the dungeon where memories come to die.
Every amnesia trap or divination miscast or cast of Selective Amnesia
strengthens it by that much, as to dead intelligent creatures. Areas,
creatures, or effects so forgotten can reappear in the Pits though they are
all equally illusory. More powerful ghosts - both of the player and of
others - are common and often fade back into the mist before they can be
destroyed. Other inhabitants include common dungeon eyes, rakshasa, and the
occasional madmen who has had his mind ravaged by the mist.

The main feature of the Pits is the dreamsmoke. It billows outward from the
central pit where thoughts are burned for fuel. Great, thick gouts of it
form the 'walls' of the Pits, though their edges trail off into a thinner
mist. In effect, tendrils of LOS-blocking smoke would writhe about in a
criss-crossing network with anywhere from one to three squares adjacent to
those thick tendrils being thinner smoke. The pockets of 'clear' space
would widen, merge, contract, etc. in an unpredictable fashion, since the
smoke is driven not by any wind but by thought itself. Generally, they will
not close up very often, but if they do it can happen quickly! Walking in
the smoke is not advised - thin smoke has a small chance to cause a
divination miscast each round, but no other effect. Thick smoke causes some
choking damage, confusion (resistable) and has a chance to remove spells or
cause amnesia. Additionally, anyone that can only see thick smoke has the
chance to be teleported to a different area of thick smoke, thus 'losing
their place' - even if they are confusion immune. This is the only
dreamsmoke effect that works on the inhabitants - otherwise, they are
immune due to their status as illusions or have simply adjusted to the

The geography of the Pits is conceptually similar to that of the Abyss.
There is only one layer, which does not shift, and it is quite large in
size. There are very few landmarks and it is of little matter since mapping
them is not possible through mundane or magical means. Exits are evenly
spaced, forming a 'grid', but the entrance location is always random. In
effect, the Pits would look like a flat sheet of graph paper with a single
static vault in the center and a scant handful of other permanent
landmarks. Temporary vaults filled with illusory creatures and items will
occasionally form, but only if the adventurer does not have immunity to
confusion - the Pits can only work their magic on a mind with room for
having to reminisce. They fade when a layer of thick dreamsmoke passes over

The center of the Pits is a small fortress. Its impressive forges have
churned out many powerful magic items, but its ruler does not take kindly
to meddlers. The inhabitants of the fortress would stick within its
confines, but some of their servants might be seen outside of it. Someone
has to keep the ghosts at bay, after all!

I dunno quite how feasible some of this is, but I like the smoke effects.
It would be cool to make a level based off of them. Some people would
attempt to move about and explore in pattern with the pockets of 'safe'
space while others would just put on an amulet of clarity and barrel on in.
Both would be feasible, and perhaps the latter wouldn't even save much time
given the possibility of teleportation.

Comment by sorear:

1. Thin dreamsmoke does not block LOS; thick dreamsmoke does, to the same
level as steam.

2. Dreamsmoke is handled using Perlin noise, with noise distances no
longer than 16 squares (we do NOT want the smoke to have discernable
large-scale structure). Perlin noise generation requires an offset, which
is random each time you enter the branch.

3. Since smoke handling is limited, only create clouds very close to you,
say 12 squares.

4. There is a small castle in the middle. Small, because this is a
normal-sized level and we want players to be lost for a while. Perhaps so
small that whatever loot is in needs to be doubled up on squares…

5. Arena shall mean the 12 squares near you. Banished shall refer to a
list of lost monsters, probably the travelling-monster list for the level.

6. Every turn…

A. Each monster NOT in LOS (that is to say, cut off by the smoke) and
not in the castle has a 2% chance of being banished (more on this later).

B. The smoke clouds are updated according to the offset and turn count.
No smoke in the castle

C. You have a 2% chance of being teleported if not in the castle.

7. Whenever you move, magically or otherwise, all the monsters not in the
new arena are banished; and each banished monster has a chance (maybe 1%,
since you move so much) of appearing in the new arena (but not in LOS).

8. Monster generation occurs in the arena fringe and the banish list, and
uses illusory-type monsters.

9. Clarity shouldn't block teleportation; it's good enough not having to
deal with confusion fleeing through thick dreamsmoke, and orange statues
should be a staple of the monster list.

Comment by Ero:

The 'castle' could conceivably be a 3×3 metal box with a secret door built
on a ~5×5 island in the middle of a series of pits (like lava, but
different cosmetically - new name / description / smoke color). Inside
would be the lord of the level (a unique) and his pile of loot. Fluff-wise,
he would be forging away constantly in his tiny chamber. If level size
constraints make it so that it has to be the same size as a normal dungeon
level I would say go with that instead of the prior description - should
make it difficult enough to find, I think.

Comment by sorear:

When you teleport, monsters nearby should be offset by the amount you
move, the smoke offset likewise, and you should never land in LOS of the
castle. (this was in earlier, but I accidentally deleted it).

Maybe the chances of teleporting away should increase the closer you get
to the castle? That would probably make it suitably hard to reach without
forcing it to be too cramped.

The Dragons' Den

Suggested by bobbens in 1742870:

Basically it would be a lair-like
level with multiple dragons. This would allow dragon armours to be gotten
earlier, although it would prove to be pretty hard. Currently you can
basically only find normal dragons and cold dragons throughout the dungeon
and swamp dragons in swamp. If you get “lucky” you might find a storm or
gold dragon in Vault:8, but usually they are shapeshifters. This little
branch would make it so you didn't always have to go to Zot to get the good
high-end dragon armours like Storm or Gold. I 'm thinking it'd only be home
of basically normal dragons, cold dragons, storm dragons, gold dragons and
iron dragons. With the possibility of very rarely quicksilver dragons and
sometimes shadow dragons.
  • This would be nice for Ogres and Trolls that want to get into golden or storm armour earlier in the game, and would give them a leg up on actually training their poor armour skill. A good challenge risk/reward ratio as well. — porkchop 2010-01-13 16:07

Item-centric Portals

Suggested in 1971317:

I'm envisioning a 1-3 level area that has a unique at the end guarding a
vault of consumables. Examples:

The Haunted Apothecary - The dark fauna of the dungeon long ago overran
Mortenson's Apothecary, corrupting the spacious manse and turning the good
doctor evil. Players will find a 4×4 room with a random selection of
potions at the end. They will also find the crazed Mortenson, who
evaporates his own noxious potions at you.

The Wandmaker's Cave - Dagonir was an elfin wandmaker who was widely
respected for his craft. Now, his cave has been infiltrated and he has
barricaded himself with a trove of wands.

The Hall of Records - Nefisi the Scribe has a veritable library of scrolls
waiting for you if you can survive him.

I would have one of these randomly pop up between the Lair and Vault 8,
just to mix up the midgame a bit.

Testing Grounds / Arena

In development by 7hm. Discussion happening on the tavern thread here: https://crawl.develz.org/tavern/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1030&p=11731#p11731

May I suggest “Proving Grounds”, “Trial by Ordeal”, or “Arena”/“Divine Arena” as alternative names? To me, “Testing Grounds” sounds like a sandbox or laboratory facility. — jeffqyzt 2011-04-08 21:12
Why not call it “The Coliseum”? A pre-medieval setting (before or during the fall of Rome) would be rather fitting for a portal vault. It isn't that hard to write up an flavorful description of the archway, either. If you do use this, it would probably be best not to be too strict about the setting. — zchris13 2011-04-08 22:26
Ooh, I like Coliseum! Also, you could go with round floor layouts in that case as a signature. If you wanted to :) — jeffqyzt 2011-04-08 22:36

General Concept

(This is largely pulled from a similar arena in DoomRL - Hell's Arena. Because this is crawl it depends much more heavily on randomization, including number of waves, difficulty of monster, arena setup and loot.)
When she passes through the portal, the player is invited to participate in a ritualized combat event in a particular god's arena. Other gods are spectators to the event.
This combat involves waves of thematic but randomized enemies (thematic based on god - ie. Trog will mostly be berserking monsters, Oka may use more “warrior-like” monsters, one of the death gods will use undead, etc). Once the player kills / disposes of the first wave of enemies, a second wave will appear, and then a third, etc. The number of waves is random but varies from 2-6. Waves may be weaker or stronger - both based on randomized monster selection and based on number of monsters. There may be a “boss” wave which includes a particularly strong or unique monster - possibly themed based on entry point (or god).
Total XP for the testing grounds would be about 10-30k, with 15k being more the norm, 10k being for a rare weak arena and 30k being for an arena that includes one or more boss waves.
Because there would not be a delay between waves, players would not have the opportunity to rest, and would instead need to decide, on an ongoing basis, whether or not they should continue to fight or instead decide to back out and leave before completing the portal. Stairs would be immediately accessible, and they would have the simple option of saying “no” to both the initial entry (thus not spawning the first wave) and to all subsequent waves.

Entry Portals

The entry portals for the Testing Grounds would be unique. They would be small-medium size vaults with empty archways rather than active portals. For the player to access the portal she would need to kill a guardian, a randomly generated unique monster that is tied thematically to the god and monsters within the testing ground itself. This would be timed - the player would not be able to simply leave the level and return much later to open the portal. They would still be able to kill the monster, but the portal would not open in that case. They would get a flavour text explaining this at the time of the monster's death.
The entry vaults would have 1-5k xp depending on size, placement, and difficulty. They should be viewed as vaults in their own right rather than simply an O in the middle of . More ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Progress Update

As of Apr 8th:
Flavour: God challenge arena. Defeat successive waves of monsters
to collect your reward.


- Create better randomized monster lists
- Create “boss wave” monster wave
- Create more entry portals
- Create more destination portals
- Remove the v_mon_die_call hack if possible
- Create more flavour
- Create crowd noises effect - with possible god intervention effects?
- Add error checking where applicable
- Create a template for addition of new vaults (both entry and destination)
- Create a loot table (with adjustment for > of waves, difficulty of waves
god selection and depth found)
- Reward player with loot when all the monsters are defeated
- Add special casing (that works, unlike what I have now) for abyss
and other special effects
- Create a random “status” effect generator so that monsters may be spawned
berserking or otherwise, depending on what the situation allows
- Add tiles for the portal entry (both inactive - but not used, which
will use “stone_arch” as now - and active)
- Create noise using dgn.noisy(loudness,x,y) so that all monsters are aware of
player's position when he enters the arena, and make sure that it gets called
every so often (during crowd cheers?)
- Create monsters waves - after each wave, the portal checks to see if you have killed enough monsters (based on the arena difficulty); if you have not, it spawns another wave
- random name generator - pulls from two tables, so high degree of randomization / perhaps add a possible third small table ©
- create monster list - the monster list is a table in the format [godname] [mob type] = “monster list”; very easy to add new gods or new mob types this way
- create monster properties structure - monster properties are pulled from a property listing using a string generation function and include instructions to ensure easy editing and readability
- random god selection - creates a table with god names and creates options for gods to be pulled based on a variety of arguments passed to the function; the function can be used for crowd cheers, god effects, and arena choice (potentially more as well) ARENA GOD SELECTION SHOULD ADJUSTED BASED ON DUNGEON FACTORS
- setup arena portal - this creates the arena and makes sure that the portal will exist once the guardian dies - NOT 100% - flavour etc is needed
- arena setup - the arena is created when you enter the level, and before it even loads you're given the choice to participate or not. if you don't, you'll be in an empty arena, otherwise this function actually calls the initial monster placement etc NEEDS MORE RANDOMIZATION / FLAVOUR or perhaps exporting choice strings to a new function
- monster placement - the initial monster placement generates the first wave of monsters, uses random wave size, and sets up the inital wave tracking
- monster death calls - when a monster dies, this tracks > of kills
- string generation function - makes it easier to add properties without screwing up the portal by missing a single comma or something, also the place to add any special casing (for example for guardians, or bosses, or whatever) 7hm 2011-04-08

Demon Pit

(evilmike 2011-11-03 13:05)

Crawl has a lot of low tier demons that are mostly used as trash mobs in the later part of the game. Most of these are never interesting or a threat when the player encounters them, although a few are used in vaults.

I think there is potential here for an early-dungeon portal vault with a demonic theme. Common enemies would be 5's (imps, but also quasits, lemures, and ufetubi). Tougher monsters would be certain 4's. The maps could use a 3 as a boss monster, or else something like a kobold demonologist. These maps should be geared towards pre-lair characters (I'd say the portals should be no later than d:12), thus, at the point where a 3 or a kobold demonologist is a serious threat.

In a way, this vault would be the demonic response to ossuaries, spawning at the similar range.

Aside from being interesting new content, this portal vault would be a way of actually making good use of crawl's low tier demons. Maybe someone will actually die to a lemure!

This idea is still new and could use discussion - either in comments here, or on IRC. I think there's enough potential here to go ahead with a full portal vault, and I am willing to make several maps for it.

New ideas (added 2011-11-05 06:27):

It was suggested by dpeg that some of the levels could be built as the lairs of various mid-tier demons. For example, one map could be the lair of the neqoxeq, another could be the lair of the smoke demon, etc. These would be the bosses of the portal vault. I think this idea has potential, although not all 3's are equal, so there'd need to be some careful use of them. Also, the lower tier demons in the map wouldn't need to match the boss (I don't think they'd be able to).

I think this idea has some potential, although there's the potential spoiler issue where you know what the boss is based on what vault you get. Wizlabs also have this aspect, and I think this is a minor concern. But it's still worth thinking about, and might mean it's a good idea to slightly randomize the boss you get, instead of going for the specific “lair” theme.

For map layouts, I've thought about this a bit, and think it's probably best to let the portal vault be defined more by its monsters than by its layout-style. However, I think in general, the maps should be more room-like than cave-like, and features such as lava (not too much though) and metal (along with normal rock) would be thematic given the hellish theme. It's ok to be varied though - one idea I have is a sort of “demon town”, another is the lair of a kobold demonologist (probably with other kobolds tagging along), another is idea more of an open cavern with rooms off to the sides.

I've also been thinking about vault-defined monsters. I don't think there's a need for much of these here, but I have two ideas. One is a normal red devil (not renamed) that's defined as having a mundane weapon. This is because red devils themselves are fairly weak monsters, but the weapons they come with by default are quite strong. The other idea is a sort of “hell knight” monster that might feature as a boss (probably a reskinned human or something like that) - a hell knight would be way too hard for a portal vault at this depth, but a similar (weaker) enemy would be quite thematic.

I think this will work fine as an early game portal vault. One comment: In my opinion, the earlier portal vaults shouldn't be large (in size, and loot). The first Sewer maps were appropriately tiny, and then they got larger and larger. This is partly about balance (a portal vault giving you one XL and some items is good; if it gives you several D levels worth of items, something is wrong) and partly about game flow: in the early game, players shouldn't (be forced to) invest lots of time into a portal vault. I plan to downsize some of the overly big levels for 0.10. — dpeg 2011-11-05 15:19
Agreed. What I have in mind for maps (right now) isn't anything gigantic. The reason I think this idea is suited for a portal vault isn't level size. It's more a matter of control - you can ensure players tackle it immediately (rather than waiting until they are a higher level), and you can prevent the monsters from mixing with regular dungeon enemies. Those aspects are really what portal vaults are best for, I think. — evilmike 2011-11-06 02:01
I like this idea. Is there any remaining interest in a Demon Pit portal? If there is, I might take a shot at implementing it. — nicolae 2013-01-05 21:18
Of course! The idea has still as much potential as when it was proposed. By the way, there is absolutely no need to come up with a sequence of vaults (to make a “proper” portal vault). A single map is good enough — we'll just make the portal vault entry a bit rarer to compensate, and there'll be additional maps in due course. In that sense, it's more important for the first map to get threat (low enough to be an early portal vault) and theme (rich enough so that followers can follow) right. Thanks for the offer! — dpeg 2013-01-08 20:41
I talked to evilmike about this, and he said he'd given up on the implementation because he felt tier-5 and tier-4 demons aren't interesting enough to build a portal vault around. He thought that they might need to be redesigned if a portal vault was going to be based on them. I could give it a shot anyway, but it might be worthwhile to find some way to make the concept more interesting, either by tweaking demons or the theme a bit, or doing something interesting with the layout or what. — nicolae 2013-01-11 19:18


A vault themed around chess with monsters that operate under special rules. Whenever the player moves, only a single enemy can move. They will still attack if able. Obviously the vault would not be shaped like a chessboard, but more like a normal level with a lot of open space for the enemies to manoeuvre in.


Can move one space horizontally and vertically, but only attack diagonally.


Can move infinite spaces horizontally and vertically. Attacks horizontally and vertically.


Can move infinite spaces diagonally. Attacks diagonally.


Moves by blinking according to the rules of knight movement in chess. Has a ranged attack, but can only attack the spaces where it can move.

The Queen

Follows the rules of both the rooks and the bishops, but she is also really tough or something.

The King

Killing him will neutralize the rest of the vault or something.

What is stopping me from just running toward the slow moving king to kill him? And your vault would need a completely new wayfinding for the monsters — andorxor 2011-11-08 14:31

Astral Plane


The Astral Plane is the realm of thought, where the great repository of knowledge resides. It is a dangerous place where other seekers and guardians of knowledge can be encountered, but great rewards can be reaped if these are avoided or defeated.


  • On entrance, the player's body is left behind; the only things brought in are stats, magic, magical effects and knowledge.
  • While back in the dungeon, the body is unaffected by external forces (monsters, third-party spells, smiting) other than time (hunger, negative health effects, and wasting from astral travel - see below).
  • Stats are still based on current effects, body-worn enhancers, etc. Spell effects cast prior to entry still apply, but will expire over standard time.


  • The longer one is astral, the more one's body wastes away (recoverably) on the material plane.
  • Strength / Health / Hunger represents physical existence. Some (yet undefined) combination of these track the time the player can spend in the astral plane as they maintain the body in the physical realm.
  • The stronger / healthier one is, the longer/further they can travel from the point of entrance without losing grip on the physical plane.
  • Time passes normally and hunger cannot be counteracted while astral.
  • Countdown begins on entrance to the astral plane.
  • Active regeneration, poison, rotting, metabolism, physical mutations, and other status effects affect the wasting variable.


  • Intelligence replaces Strength in all combat challenges as it represents the POWER of thought.
  • Skills based on magic, including Evocations and Invocations remain the same.
  • Skills based on combat cannot be trained while equipment is not available.
  • Dexterity remains the same as it represents the SPEED of thought.
  • Stealth, Traps & Doors (astral-specific traps akin to Zot traps), Stabbing still work as normal when needed.
  • MP represents health in the Astral Plane.
  • Magical Power replaces Health; in lieu of MP from Invocations/Spellcasting, Evocations may be used as that can represent magical knowledge.
  • Some effects (Spirit Shield) have a different effect where damage is still distributed, reducing both health (MP) and time (HP).
  • Active item effects are in place, but are inaccessible and cannot be removed or swapped.
  • No items may be eVoked.
  • Alternately, worn or wielded Artefacts may be eVoked, or distortion brands could still work, but likely not.
  • See Manifest Equipment Ability below.
Inherent Astral Abilities
  • Amnesia - In the astral plane, thought is tangible, so removal of spells from memory via amnesia can be done at any time without penalty.
  • Depart - this is an evokable ability to exit the astral plane and is the only way to leave besides death. There is no physical exit.
  • Manifest Equipment - An alternate evokable ability might be to “manifest equipment”, which could provide temporary equipment (weapon, armor) based on equipment currently held at the sacrifice of some MP and hunger. Any skill check should use Int in place of Str. Equipment cannot be swapped.
Mutations (Physical)
  • Metabolism-based, deterioration, and attribute penalties still apply.
  • Teleportitis or worn rings of teleportation are (optionally) death sentences unless Stasis is worn, as they could move the player off the portal, severing the mind from the physical.
Mutations (Astral)
  • Only mutations that might affect thought or attributes (attribute enhancers/detriments) apply.
  • Anger and low magic applies.
  • Scream does not.
  • Needs debate: Physical mutations for attacking (Horns, constriction, claws) will only come into place if Manifest Equipment is used.
  • Some Gods might not be able to affect the astral plane (no Brothers in Arms, Trog!).
  • Others (Sif, Vehumet) are enhanced.
  • Alternately, some Gods might be directly encountered (BAD FOR PLAYER!).
  • Only non-physical magic can be used (IMB, OOD).
  • Some specific summons or necromantic summons may work.
  • The spell list must be evaluated on a spell-per-spell basis.
  • Flight and Invisibility do not work; nothing is invisible in the astral plane.

Player adapts some universally applicable iteration on Djinni player mechanics from v0.13.


Environment should be cloud-like and hazy in appearance. Walls of thicker haze can be passed as if Passwall were used, consuming time. There are wandering encounters to be had; the goal is to reach the library and read plates, then escape. The library is surrounded by a thicker wall that takes either more time to pass through or can be bypassed by using specific entrances.

Plates of Knowledge (Reward)

The goal of the astral plane is to locate the library and the various plates of knowledge distributed within and read them.

  • The plates of knowledge contain various concepts including
    • spells to memorize; possibly unique spells only available in the astral plane
    • permanent, non-mutation-based, bonuses to Intelligence
    • flat experience allocations
    • flat damage to MP
    • skill enhancers ala manuals
    • sage effects ala decks of wonder
    • confusion
    • spell miscast effects
  • Reading the plates takes time.
  • Much like plants, the plates can be destroyed with damage (Trog likes!), but may cause attacks from The Librarians.

Encounters (Astral)

Monsters that may be encountered include

  • other spellcasters
  • researchers
  • disembodied spirits
  • player ghosts
  • regular ghosts
  • astral walkers
  • The Librarians who guard the plates.

Physical Encounters

Monsters will still show up at the portal as time passes and may accumulate, but cannot harm the player until he arrives back in the physical plane.


Astral Plane portal should appear at Vaults / Dungeon or lower.

Miscellaneous New Portal-Specific Effects

Potential portal vault effects/rules:

  • No healing, deep dwarf style. — evktalo 2010-04-08 17:24
  • Temporarily drain XL to a maximum level. Say the cap of Caves of the Meek is XL4; a PC with XL7 gets it drained down to XL4, and regains them when exiting the portal vault. A PC with XL3 is not affected, and may gain XL up to 4 while in the portal vault. — evktalo 2010-05-16 10:26
    • Draining skills would be more interesting, actually. — evktalo 2010-08-05 14:38
  • Similar cap on Str, Int or Dex. — evktalo 2010-05-16 10:26
    • Need to watch out for carrying capacity. Being forced to leave half your inventory to the portal vault would be unfunny. — evktalo 2011-11-08 17:54

A portal vault that forced you into bat form, and had you escape/outrun enemies to a goal with treasure could be really fun. — roctavian 2012-05-02 10:33

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