Hero Worship (Bad Player "God"?)

Name dcss:brainstorm:god:hero
Summary Turn player ghosts from trivial/out-of-depth threats into a power source.
Added by MoogleDan
Added on 28/02/2013


You are not the first to walk these halls. It is entirely possible you will not be the last. Among the gold and treasures of the Dungeon, you've found more than a few remains of those who went before, and even the restless, angry spirits of those who failed. But their anger need not be directed toward you. Alone, lost, and unacknowledged, they must be mad with frustration. What kind of hero would you be to escape with the Orb of Zot, only to leave your fallen brothers unrecognized?

The practice of hero worship is one of providing comfort to the fallen. At its most basic, it makes you more aware of the inhabitants of the invisible world, and also gives you the power to appease them. More powerful practitioners will gain the ability to dispel malevolent spirits of all sorts, and can acquire guidance, equipment, and even the direct support of the fallen heroes they've encountered.

The dead are pleased by those who make appropriate offerings of food, who successfully appease the angry dead, and who learn the appropriate methods for requesting their aid. They are easily offended and jealous, however; those who abuse their assistance and violate their remains are certain to rile them to anger, and who knows how long they will keep from succumbing to jealousy if you actually acquire the Orb they once strove for?

Concept Explanation

I've never been a huge fan of the current player ghost system. While I appreciate the sudden sense of panic one gets from encountering a DEFE on floor 7 or so, they almost never make an appearance past the early game, and when they do, they've generally got enough weaknesses to make them pathetic (or enough Fire Storm to seriously mangle you out of the blue). Too random, too uncommon, too unpredictable. Instead, this religion would essentially make them into the Crawl equivalent of NPCs, a sort of limited Summon / Shop / Trainer system which provides significant support on demand along with a spike in hostile player ghosts (and some limited but useful tools for dealing with them). Nice players can enjoy these abilities from the early game through to the extended end game, while more bastardly players can abuse their gifts for a different set of benefits. And as with any good story about irresponsibly dabbling with the occult, they will almost certainly turn on you before the ending credits roll.

The only aspect of this proposal that I see causing any sort of serious technical hurdles is that of generating the player ghosts necessary to make the idea functional. There are hardly ever enough fresh ghosts around to populate more than a handful of floors in a given game; finding at least one for each floor would be impossible. I'm wondering if it would be possible to pull them in from some archive of dead players or, failing that, to draw them out of a stockpile of artificial ghosts or (preferably) to randomly generate believable ghosts. We’d almost certainly need to do one of those for offline games.

This concept would also require some new items which behave a little oddly. Most of them disintegrate when dropped, and one of them provides bonuses so long as it’s in your inventory. Somehow I see those as being easier to implement.


Piety functions as normal, but as with Xom, there is another statistic tracked to determine your relationship with the supernatural: different species have different food preferences, and likewise their ghosts have different offering preferences. Your Respect level is completely seperate from your Piety, and it is tracked for each of the three primary diets: Herbivorous, Omnivorous, and Carnivorous. Sacrificing meat or vegetables will greatly please some ghosts while annoying others. Neutral foodstuffs are appreciated by all.

Piety Gain

  • Sacrificing permafood (pray over it)
  • Sacrificing clean corpses (slight chance, rises with monster's HD) (attempting to sacrifice any other kind of corpse will fail)
  • Peacefully turning a neutral ghost into remains
  • Training the Invocations and Necromancy skills (a la Sif Muna)

Piety Loss

  • The ghosts are restless. Lose 1 piety every ??? turns.
  • The ghosts are insulted! Lose 10 piety if you allow player ghost remains to be destroyed by lava or jelly, lose 20 piety if you kill a hostile player ghost.
  • The ghosts are envious! Lose 40 piety each time you get a rune.
  • The ghosts have gone insane!!! Lose 1 piety per turn once you pick up the Orb of Zot.


You are immediately excommunicated if:

  • You use the Spiritual Cannibalism ability
  • Your piety reaches 0


Respect determines the initial attitude of player ghosts toward you. To keep matters simple (I'd rather not implement a massive chart of which species likes which), Respect is tracked for Herbivores, Carnivores, and Omnivores. Pleasing one category may irritate another. This scales from 0 to 20; the chance of a freshly encountered player ghost being neutral toward you is:

(Respect - 3)/Respect

If this fails, the ghost will be hostile toward you as normal. If it succeeds, it will be neutral, wandering the floor randomly, generally avoiding combat but attacking anything specifically in its way. Upon converting to Hero Worship, respect is set to 5 for all categories.

Respect Gain

  • Sacrifice Meat or Most Vegetables: +2 to the categories that like them, +1 to omnivores.
  • Sacrifice Neutral Foods: +1 to all categories.
  • Sacrifice Honey, Royal Jelly, or Ambrosia: +2 to all categories (ghosts love honey).

Respect Loss

  • Lose 1 respect from a random category every ??? turns
  • Sacrifice Meat or Most Vegetables: -1 to the categories that dislike them
  • Sacrifice Snozzcumber: -1 to all categories
  • Allow an allied player ghost to die: -2 to all categories

Special Respect Rules

  • Respect is treated as +4 when dealing with a ghost whose species matches yours
  • Respect is treated as -4 when dealing with a ghost with an evil religion (they're just inherently nasty individuals)
  • For non-hill orcs, respect is treated as 0 when dealing with ghosts who worshiped Beogh.

Excommunication: The Haunt

While the player ghosts won't inflict penance upon you under any circumstances, getting excommunicated throws you past a tipping point that leaves you unable to receive any further aid (although you can still generate further remains for consumption). The game will still populate the Dungeon with random player ghosts (now with a 20% chance of appearing in your line of sight), but there will be no way of pacifying them or bringing them to your side. You are effectively haunted by angry dead players for the rest of the game (though the rate shouldn’t be too overwhelming). This comes into play aggressively during the Ascension run, during which a slow player will almost certainly get excommunicated, making the opposition significantly nastier. Ghosts should spawn much faster during Ascension, and should always appear near you.

That being said, sufficiently high-powered, non-good characters may wish to get excommunicated earlier due to the recuperative abilities granted to those who are willing to cannibalize the remains, and careless characters could simply take too long, kill too many angry ghosts, or gather runes too quickly and get excommunicated by accident. Getting excommunicated does not prevent you from then switching to a different god.

Powers Overview

- Sixth Sense

- Soothe the Soul

- Shared Soul (Awakened)

♦ Banishing Wave

♦♦ Spirit Counsel

♦♦♦ Spirit Ally

♦♦♦ Spiritual Cannibalism

♦♦♦♦ Shared Soul (Avenger)

♦♦♦♦♦ Spirit Shield

♦♦♦♦♦♦ Shared Soul (Conduit)

♦♦♦♦♦♦ Dual Soul

Powers In-Depth

Sixth Sense - Passive. The game will immediately generate 1 new player ghost on each floor you've been to so far, and all future floors will have 1 more player ghost than normal. To keep this from generating deadly uniques on every floor, these ghosts will be drawn from a pool of characters 1d3 levels below your current experience level. Further player ghosts will generate on a random already-visited floor every 1000 turns. Killing a player ghost now has a 20% chance of dropping player ghost remains (50% if killed with a reaping weapon). This ability lasts even when excommunicated.

Note: For game balance purpose, any ghost produced through the Sixth Sense should provide reduced experience (possibly none?).

Soothe the Soul - A range 6 beam attack that requires line of effect. When used against a hostile player ghost, it attempts to turn it neutral. When used against a neutral player ghost, it lays the ghost to rest, converting it into “player ghost remains”. This is a permanent item, but it can be destroyed if eaten by jellies or by tossing it into lava. You can only carry a number of remains based on your Shared Soul rank. Success rate is based on your XP level, the ghost’s HD, and your Invocations or Necromancy skill (whichever is higher). Costs 2 MP, 40 food.

Shared Soul - Passive. Allows you to carry the remains of player ghosts you've laid to rest (or the items you craft from them) for use in other abilities. You may carry 1 at a time initially, 2 at ♦♦♦♦ piety, and 3 at ♦♦♦♦♦♦. You maintain your highest capacity level even if your piety drops or if you are excommunicated. See item details below.

Banishing Wave - A burst attack with range identical to that of the Shining One's Cleansing Flame. However, unlike that ability, this only affects insubstantial demons and undead, dealing damage on par with Dispel Undead with spell power determined by your Invocations or Necromancy skill (whichever is higher). Costs 4 piety, 5 MP, 100 food.

Note: This is probably my least favorite ability. If you think there's too many, I'd say chop this first.

Spirit Counsel - Converts remains into a spirit counsel. This is an item which functions much like a manual. When you create the counsel, select one skill which the player ghost’s background begins with skill levels in. So long as you are actively studying the counsel, you gain a +2 to your aptitude in that skill. The counsel is destroyed if you drop it, if your skill level equals the experience level the player ghost originally died at, or if you’re excommunicated. Costs 10 piety and 400 food.

Spirit Ally - Consumes remains to summon a temporary player ghost ally. Allowing it to be destroyed will result in a loss of respect, but no penalties will occur if it simply times out (including if it is abjured by enemy summoners). Spell power determines duration, which rises with your Invocations or Necromancy skill (whichever is higher). Costs 10 piety, 400 food, draining.

Spiritual Cannibalism - Consumes remains to immediately restore 25% of your max HP and MP, as well as 1000 nutrition. Also immediately causes excommunication. This is an evil act and will offend the good gods if you choose to worship them later on.

Note: For balance purposes, should this take more than one turn to complete? Even if it’s hard to come by, it’s also much more powerful than most sources of healing. I’d also be willing to adjust the amount restored.

Spirit Shield - Converts remains into a spirit shield, an item which provides you with a single resistance the ghost had upon death. When created, you can select one resistance from a list of all resistances the ghost had. This item is not equipped in any way, but functions so long as it is in your inventory. It is destroyed when dropped or if you are excommunicated. Costs 20 piety, 400 food.

SPECIAL: Some ghosts can provide special resistances that aren’t normally tracked in player ghost stats.

  • Halflings: rMut (50% effective)
  • Deep dwarves: Damage shaving (as a level 1 deep dwarf)
  • Good god followers: rHoly
  • Ashenzari followers: Clarity
  • Trog followers: MR+
  • Kiku followers: Death curses (50% effective)
  • Zin followers: Hell effects (33%) OR rMut (50% effective)

Dual Soul - You may pray at a shrine to an anonymous hero to bind your soul together with another’s. Consumes remains to immediately give you a single species mutation of your choosing that the player ghost had upon death (but only a single level of it). You may only use this once, and it cannot be removed in any way. No cost.

New Item: Remains, Spirit Counsels, and Spirit Shields

Many of the powers described above are fueled by player ghost remains. These are essentially going to be portable Bones files, letting you examine the details of the ghost you defeated before use. Although the benefits of this religion are very modular, there is a hard limit on the number of them you can take advantage of at a time based on your Shared Soul ability, and the piety cost of using remains should be high enough to make the player think twice on doing so.

Weight: 10 AUM

Player ghost remains: “The ethereal remains of a fallen hero, heavy with regret.”

Spirit Counsel: “The ethereal remains of a fallen hero. You can almost make out its faint whisperings.”

Spirit Shield: “The ethereal remains of a fallen hero. Bathing in its glow, you feel safe from harm.”

Note: Due to the limitations of what Bones files actually contain, I had to adjust several of these abilities from my original ideas (no borrowing equipment from the dead, less control over the aptitude boosts, etc.). I think the batch I’m providing here is pretty solid though.


- Awakened

♦ Listener

♦♦ Consoler

♦♦♦ Whisperer

♦♦♦♦ Avenger

♦♦♦♦♦ Intermediary

♦♦♦♦♦♦ Conduit


“A humble shrine in memory of an anonymous hero.”

Death Messages



♦♦ TBD

♦♦♦ TBD

♦♦♦♦ TBD

♦♦♦♦♦ TBD

♦♦♦♦♦♦ TBD

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dcss/brainstorm/god/propose/hero.txt · Last modified: 2013-02-28 22:41 by MoogleDan
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