Randomly Generated Gods

Name dcss:brainstorm:god: random god
Summary Brainstorming about randomly generated gods.
Further information Forum posting
Added by dpeg
Added on 2011-09-14 16:55
Major rewrite 2012-08-29 20:24
Details 1 Miniature
Details 2 Random gods: current status

Random gods have randomly assigned names, piety rules, conducts and powers. They should be somewhat consistent (e.g. not punish something they give an ability for) and roughly balanced. They can afford to be a bit on the stronger side since altars to them should be really rare (think fewer than one per game) and they are less well-studied than the standard gods. Rare does not mean late: random gods have to come up early, to present an actual choice (so depth range D:2-6 is attractive). I see appeal for random gods in two ways: Players who never win or even find a rune will love the new, mystical gods sometimes present. Experienced players may fancy to win their game with a random god, straying from the original plan.

Setting up random gods is a lot of work, but I believe it is worth it. Because of this, we should use powers and piety rules that are simple to code. Fancy stuff can go to regular gods!


  • Random gods should go with fewer but stronger effects. This makes them easier to understand for players and also increases the appeal.
  • Random gods can afford very wacky powers and conducts. In particular, ideas that would be unsuitable for a regular god might be okay with a random god.
  • But they shouldn't encourage tedium. For example, don't use “killed by [method]” as a piety rule. Some players will try to get monsters to almost dead with whatever they're good at, then switch to the expected method. Of course, there are still methods to use such a rule, just be aware of the issue.
  • It is okay to copy from other gods, from spells etc. Within reason — no signature powers!
  • A conduct will often have implications on piety gain and perhaps powers. For example, “Don't buy!” should always enforce the Shoplift power: the conduct is meaningful but useless shops/bazaars are unfun.
  • Wrath effects don't have to be fancy.
  • They should be persistent across a limited number of games, not be rerolled each game. This allows for discussion of shared random gods between players on online servers, and brings them a bit closer to the established gods which are completely persistent.

For definition of a random god, the following items are needed:

  1. rules specifying piety gain (one or two)
  2. powers (of various types, between two and five)
  3. conducts (not always; if chosen, may have impact on rules and/or powers)
  4. name: randomly made (like Beogh follower naming), and always in double quotation marks (like some artefact names), e.g.: “Apheryl”, “Kxy Linb”. I would like to reserve ordinary names for standard gods, and they would follow the rule of different first letter for different gods. Giving random gods a fixed starting letter does not sound very attractive either: ultimately, I hope for random gods made out of winning characters, and then the first letter should be variable.
  5. a colour (for console) and a tile
  6. theme: something holding the god together thematically, and used for the (first sentence/part) of the god's description.

Building a god

There are several ways to get a decent random god. It is not clear which is a good distribution (fully random gods should be rarest):

  • Get a theme from a major, thematic conduct (e.g. no_buying or no_casting).
  • Otherwise, just roll for a theme. (Some, but not all, tags qualify as themes.)
  • Roll everything randomly, just avoiding clashes.

Here is a proposal how to actually roll a random god:

  1. Roll for a major conduct (use one with a rather low chance). If you get one, you'll also have a piety gain rule and/or some power(s).
  2. If no major conduct was rolled, roll for a Theme instead (i.e. one of a list of tags, like Caster, Hater, Stealth, etc.). The theme will then be used to increase weights of powers and piety rules with the same tag. It will also be used for the god's description.
  3. If there is no piety gain rule from a conduct, then roll a major piety gain rule. (Later, we may also deal with minor piety gain rules, but not in the first incarnation.)
  4. If no major conduct, then roll for a conduct. Such a conduct may either be major (and then lead to an additional trademark power) or be minor (and just lead to one or two additional minor powers.) (Also skipped in first round.)
  5. Roll a trademark power, fitting theme (if any). If the god has neither major conduct nor a specific theme, the signature power is used for the initial description.
  6. Roll minor powers.
  7. Roll wrath.

Assorted remarks

  • Mostly in the shallow dungeon (D:2-6). Additional random gods can occur anywhere, as usual.
  • Certainly fewer than once per game (in the shallow D range).
  • Altars to random gods are temporary: if you encounter one, it will disappear soon, say in 20-40 turns. (Gameplay rationale: I want to avoid players taking on the god very late, in the extreme case during the orb run, and then boast a “random god win”. Theme rationale: these are really small gods, and ignorance really gets to them.)
  • A random god will disappear when won with often enough. E.g. chance for disappearance could be (wins-1)^2/100.
  • A random god can also disappear after sufficiently many (but really many) unsuccessful attempts. (In terms of evolution, think of that god as too weak for the competition.) Chances for this should take into account maximal and total (over all games) piety achieved.
  • Random gods can be saved (locally or by the server admin). For example, a particularly popular random god could be kept in eternal existence, with really small chances to show up — these could be like a mascot for a server.
  • Random gods could disappear after a period of real world time. Ex. `God of the week.`
Outside access
  • Random gods should be available in wizard mode: &_? should roll a demigod, list all the properties and query for use.
  • Random gods appearing in a game should be dumped in the postmortem dump (i.e. all their properties).
  • Random gods should be usable within vaults, either unspecified, or with details. (There is also Sprint potential here.)
  • Random gods should be listed on the server websites, including how far players got with them, and who won with them.
  • Abilities can be described with a graph graph. A set of abilities is generated by selecting a small number of thematically appropriate (low power) starting nodes and randomly traversing edges to accumulate more powerful abilities. Thus two gods could, for example, share tier-5 and -6 abilities, but have different low-tier abilities.

Player gods

This is a bit getting ahead of myself but I want the idea jotted down somewhere.

  • Atheist wins (so all demigods but also other characters who never worshiped a god) are eligible to produce a player god. Chance increases with score. An ordinary 3 rune win would be not enough to have a chance of making a player god, a speed run or a full runer would have a good chance. Think of 1/20 chance for a mundane (non speed) six runer. Almost guaranteed for a speedy full runer.
  • A player god is a random god built after the winning character (use skills, stats, perhaps species (see above for Elf, Orc), but not inventory or mutations, as those are prone to change before leaving the dungeon). Since we should track general conducts at some point, those could also be used.
  • The player god's name is a garbled (Crawl-style) version of the player's name which hopefully allows to guess the player.
  • A player god is treated like a random god for altar creation purposes.
  • A player god disappears once someone took him up and won. (Mean spirited players could take on a player god during the orb run and thereby remove it for everyone – there are ways to prevent that but I don't want to discuss them here.) The reason for this is that player gods should come and go but stay long enough so that players can get a feeling for what a player god is about.
  • Ultimately, my hope is that player gods provide long term replayability, comparable to ziggurats.
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dcss/brainstorm/god/concept/random_god.txt · Last modified: 2013-07-29 08:10 by brendan
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