Zin (Revised)

Completely new version. Topics not mentioned (Sanctuary) are supposed to stay unchanged. Left some of the old comments as there are interesting ideas to be found there. — dpeg 2011-09-22 01:09

Note: current Zin (0.9) is actually playable, thanks to Eronarn's Recite overhaul. The god still has issues, which are listed thoroughly in vintermann's evaluation.

Mutation protection

This is not yet in, patch welcome!

Changed according to Vintermann's proposal:

  • Remove mutation cure upon taking on Zin.
  • Remove passive mutation protection with piety.
  • At ***** piety, Zin removes some mutations occasionally. (This could be like an effect of cure mutation.) Since Zin abhors all kinds of modification, there is not even an attempt to distinguish between good or bad mutations — to Zin, they're all heretical rubbish.
  • After a mutation removal, there are two conditions before the next one:
    1. Duration (at least d10*d10*d10 turns, say).
    2. Piety gain: you have to gain at least some piety.


  • Converts have to spend a little time until they get their mutations addressed.
  • The new version keeps mutations and mutators tactically relevant.
  • After getting a bad mutation, you might be inclined to wait it out. The second condition is supposed to amend that. You have to collect money or explore. Also, piety decays with Zin.
  • Note that some players might think it is clever to be mutated by nexoqecs etc. In case something bad occurs, they can rely on mutation removal, and if something good comes up, they can use it until then. (Note that deliberate mutation is out of the question.) In order to make this a non-issue, piety decays with time.
  • With this change, you're less compelled to stay at the piety limit. In the end game it will be sufficient to have enough piety for Sanctuary, perhaps Vitalise (it is cheap), and for passive mutation removal (i.e. *****).


Currently, Zin gives piety for waiting. This is not good — in all such cases (i.e. also for Elyvilon and the Shining One), piety should be given for exploration or some other activity. With feeding subsumed by Vitalise this is more urgent now. Piety for exploration is already implemented for Ashenzari but the proposal below tries to go for something more flavourful.

Not yet in, patch welcome.

  • Gain piety for collecting gold. Note that this is quite like a disguised version of piety for exploration with some tweaks (e.g. Orc is more attractive to Zinners than Lair which fits nicely with Recital). The gold to piety function needs some care; we should start by examining how much gold characters have on average at given places.
    Thematically, this represents the Christian tithe.
I noticed that after a while Zin stops taking a tithe. Doesn't this encourage you to leave gold lying on the ground to pick up later, or to use vitilisation for free food before picking up gold at that point, else you're wasting potential piety? — st 2011-12-29 17:42
  • Gain piety for parting with gold. This is done as now, as voluntary sacrifice. We might consider making this an active ability (i.e. remove the need to travel to an altar); if piety decays over time (see below), this change is mandatory.
    Thematically, this represents Catholic absolution via indulgence.
  • Slow piety decay during time.
  • Optional: Gain piety for burying corpses of sentient beings. Killing them is fine, as long you care for their souls. You would use burial mostly early on, and gold later on. This is optional because I find the two gold related piety gains very thematic, and they should be strong enough to make the god work. (Note that piety for killing Zin hated monsters is kept.)


Currently, Recite does not cost (or gain) piety. It uses food and breath, and a monster cannot be recited to in quick succession. Recite stays useful throughout the game (assuming Invocations are trained) and is a tool of crowd management against humanoids etc.

  • Urgent: transparency! The biggest problem with Recite it opacity: it is not clear which option to choose if two or three are available. I don't know how to convey the information in half a line, though. (Could be done in abilities screen or one of the piety screens.)
  • Likewise, it should be mentioned if a monster suffers harder from Recite because it follows an evil god. This goes for orcs, in particular.
  • Monsters who react disagreeably upon Recite are declared “sinners”. This makes them sit longer in prison.
  • New passive effect (unrelated to Recite): Zin may smite sinners. Chances higher with more sinners in view.

Orcs are valuable Recite targets as they're following Beogh who is classified as an evil god. This is sometimes debated but I'd like to keep it. Ultimately, we could build on the topic of a divine clash between Zin and Beogh for orcish souls.

Question: why can't recite just be a one turn ability? It /would/ stay useful throughout the game if it were, at three turns it's kind of not. It's only worth using when you would otherwise be spending three turns pressing s or moving towards monsters. Also, it seemingly being loud, using it at vaults depth can draw crowds of centaurs/yaktaurs (and other stuff) towards you which is bad when you're paralysed for 3 turns. — st 2011-12-29 17:48


Imprison is kept as a separate effect for several reasons:

  • It is a nice, thematic way to hammering down the law. After the talking, there'll be the jail.
  • It is a reliable effect, in contrast with Recite. Also, it has tactical advantages and drawbacks, which make it better suited for a standalone power.

Duration has been doubled for 0.10 trunk.

It is okay if the monster has a modified state once the prison is gone (like now: sleep, paralysed, confused, hasted, enraged etc.) There could be some new effects:

  • silenced
  • visual (describe the monster as “broken”, “deranged”, “scarred”, using MONS: kobold name:deranged name_adjective)
  • petrified
  • dead
  • gone


Vitalise has been changed for 0.10 trunk: instead of affecting stats and statuses one by one, it is now a proactive power which prevents bad statuses and stat losses (and still boosts stats). This change was made to differentiate the power from Elyvilon's Purification which addresses the same problems, but in a retroactive way.

Vitalise can be used when active, but stat boosts do not stack (this might be changed at a later time). The power also replaces the former feeding, as it gives nutrition (as long as the player is not full). For later: The satiation gained can be tuned up as soon as piety gain is addressed.

Duration is randomised but independent of piety or Invocations.

Todo? Give feedback about stat boost before usage (on abilities screen or on ^ or ^! screens).

Older Zin proposals


New Recite effects
  • The [foo] breaks free from a life of oppression. Neutral + berserk.
  • [Foo] tries to pray to Zin. Monster does not move for three turns and becomes strictly neutral.
Recite mechanics proposals
  • The effect of Recite on an monster depends on whether the intelligence is normal (easier) or high (harder). If doing this, we may want to upgrade some uniques from normal to high etc.
  • Recitation gives piety upon success. Chance of piety that is larger the more HD the creature has if recitation fails (negative effect, such as haste or berserk). Piety given is roughly equal to if you had sacrificed the corpse to Okawaru. This proposal takes care of the “recite to goblins” scum, but it still has the drawback that the mechanic is close to Elyvilon's pacification.
  • Guaranteed effects against shapechangers.
Even at high invocations skill, Recite appears to be a huge liability almost all the time. At 27 invocations skill, midgame enemies (I tested on merfolk javelineers/impalers) are almost always hasted, frenzied or unaffected; positive effects almost never happen. Obviously it's even worse on endgame enemies (stone giants, vault guards, and draconians). 3- and even 4-class demons are usually hasted - clearly Recite is supposed to be less effective on them, but it would make more sense for them just to be completely unaffected, than for Recite to be ineffective at maximum skill.
I really think Recite needs a significant buff (obviously not to the extent of the bug where pan lords could be pacified :P) for Zin to be taken seriously. Additionally, maybe Imprison could be likely to have stronger/more positive effects than Recite. — marvinpa 2010-09-30 17:08


Currently, Vitalise will remove one of Sick, Rotting, Confused or Poisoned. Otherwise, one lost stat will be restored. And else, all stats are increased by 3 for 40 + 5*Invocation/2 turns.

I suggest to make that last effect repeatable: If you already have n Vitalisations (i.e. stats boosted by 3*n), then the next one should have a piety cost of [original piety cost]*(n+1)*(n+1). This way, you can get boosts of +12 if you like, but it's costly.

Life saving

I dislike the current implementation of life saving. It's so random, it makes me feel I'm a bad player, and it doesn't help when I'm doing well. And it's hard to understand. How about this instead ?

  • If my character has X or more HP and takes enough damage to die, his HP is reduced to 1 instead.
  • X must be higher than 1.
  • X can be anything, but let's start with 5 for simplicity.

That way, player would get meaningful protection that doesn't feel cheap or random. It's also easy to understand, and has a nice synergy with potions of healing. The purpose of X is to make sure player isn't saved time after time, he would have to survive a little longer before he can benefit again. Trolls might be trickier to balance, and that's why it might be better to make X depend on race, level and Fighting skill. — b0rsuk 2010-10-14 23:50


Imprison only works on intelligent monsters which are not adjacent to any monster, to lava, water or any features. In other words, the monster to be imprisoned must be intelligent and surrounded by walls (of any type) or empty floor.

If you choose to imprison such a monster, put a Tomb of Dorokhloe around it, i.e. fill all adjacent floor glyphs with rock walls. These new walls are timed and should disappear (all together) after some duration which depends on Inv. I am thinking of 5-20 turns. The chance of actually putting down the prison should not depend on the monsters hit dice (or any other attribute) — since the monster is not harmed, you can simply do it. However, being imprisoned has a Recital type of effect on the monster (but with a twist): when it is released, it may be

  • neutral (never friendly, of course)
  • confused
  • paralysed
  • fleeing
  • sleeping
  • hasted
  • berserk (even if ordinary Recite does not do this anymore!)
  • etc. (use all the effects we have so far plus berserk).

This result depends on Inv (standing for the strength of the Recitals in prison) vs HD (and the monster type, as for normal Recite).

For flavour, there could be messages: You hear screams of rage from the prison. etc.

Gameplay: You can only use Imprison under restricted condition since the monster has to be intelligent and alone. This should be tactially interesting. If these conditions are met, you can reliably (i.e. only a check against Inv, not against monster HD) take it out of battle. (It would be very neat if some monsters, e.g. some Pan lords and some uniques, would try escape from prison if they can (teleport, dig) or try to summon regardless. But that is about monster AI, not about the Prison power itself.) Note also that Imprison allows you to temporarily block open space — this should be very powerful and tactically interesting. On the other hand, there is a price: especially if you imprison tough monsters (e.g. liches or executioners), they may emerge more dangerous from prison than when you sent them in.

  • This is implemented in master now, with a few tweaks. — dolorous
I'd strongly suggest that this changes from physical walls to a 3×3 sanctuary-like effect centered on the monster (immobilizing the creature and allowing nothing else to enter), with everything else remaining the same. It'd be much more thematic, the consistency of flavor would be welcome, it wouldn't be copying a nonrelated existing ability, and the only gameplay changes would be that escape isn't an option (which seems fitting in itself; this is a god and all) and that smiting and LOS attacks would work across blocked chokepoints. However, there'd also be the welcome possibility of making the ability usable with adjacent lava/water (as it's a non-physical effect) and with adjacent monsters (have them pushed/blinked or flee like actual sanctuary), which would make the ability become usable in many common situations - the positioning limitations seem unnecessary, given the range of duration and possibility of hasting or berserking after five turns. — OG17 2010-05-23 00:22
What about “strongly”? Zin's theme is law, and with this property, you can tell others about the law (Recite), can punish lawless denizens (Imprison) and declare yourself immune (Sanctuary). I object to “much more thematic” as well: while the above proposal would create a link between Imprison and Sanctuary, the current implementation creates a link between Recite and Imprison, which is more important in my opinion. — dpeg 2010-05-24 02:34
I'd intended to include the recitation effects and flavor with “everything else remaining the same” - there'd be nothing lost but ill-fitting dirt walls. And as far as theme goes, it seems rather fitting that a believer's sanctuary is a heretic's prison - and confining a creature to a sermon seems less like “punishment” and more like an attempt to forcibly convert the creature, anyway, which is indeed a strong link with Recite. It hardly seems undesirable to link sanctuary as well to give the abilities fully cohesive flavor (particularly if the alternative is Tomb of Zin). — OG17 2010-05-24 06:02
ledtim's comments on imprison: It's only for running away. And it's not even all too good at that, because late game against powerful enemies, I've seen it wear off in 3 turns while hasting the enemy. I can totally see it getting an unspoiled player killed. Using it to neutralize a powerful enemy while taking out other monsters is a no-go as it'll get freed quite soon and very likely hasted. And Zin already has the best ability for running away, rendering this ability redundant. It's basically sanctuary-lite, costing half the piety and available earlier while being a lot less effective. While Elyvilon and Makhleb for example have abilities that do basically the same thing less effectively for cheaper cost compared to another ability, those abilities can be spammed. Imprison is too expensive to spam, and far too situational. About the only thing it can do sanctuary can't do is when you use it on a monster weak enough for the walls to last long enough and for it to be no threat to you even hasted, and create a bit of an enclosed space, though honestly, situations that prove to be useful that don't come up too often.

And while I'm at it, comments on Zin in general. He's pretty weak, but more than that, currently he's BORING. I don't think I'm alone in thinking that considering he's the least popular starting god and like the third least popular overall (last time I checked, Fedhas was slightly more unpopular than him though I think it's only because he's a starting choice) and that's including Jivya. Worshipping Zin puts many restrictions on your conduct and limits your options. Recite is useless except for training invocations. Vitalization either does the same thing as a potion of healing/restoration (of which you'll be up to your nostrils over the course of a normal game) or has a boost on your stats you can barely even notice. Feeding and sanctuary can be useful, but they are used only a few times over the course of a game, if ever. Mutation/rot etc. is somewhat rarely encountered, and Zin's protection isn't even that worthy, needing 180/200 piety to duplicate an amulet of resMut (and on a God piety is precious to boot), and not even providing protection against glow mutations. Curing mutation is nice, but again, it's something that's used very rarely. So basically, currently, worshiping Zin is a few sanctuaries and a mediocre mutation protection over the course of the game, with only annoying conduct restrictions to occasionally remind you that you are not playing an atheist character.

Zin desperately need a more active ability, something that you'll use more often than a few times over a game. I see some potential in imprison, but currently, it's too expensive, situational, and of limited utility. — ledtim 2010-09-25 16:57

Alternate Zin

Give Zin a list of Commandments - less than 10 of them, easy to remember, annoying at times but overall meaningful. Each Commandment is tracked independently, thus you can be a gluttonous priest of Zin, or a miserly one, or an impure one. Unlike the current good gods, Zin cares about violations mostly on a per-Commandment basis. This means that, e.g., demons can be summoned at a great penalty to that conduct, but a lesser penalty to overall Zin piety (which is the aggregate adherence to those Commandments). Zin should not forgive accidental transgressions any more than he forgives accidentally being rotted - he is NOT a forgiving god. Also, instead of telling you when you're doing good, Zin just tells you how you aren't good enough in his eyes if you're failing in any category. — Eronarn 2009-12-27 03:19


  • Prayer: Like a “minor recite”, but flavored to a specific Commandment rather than totally random/weird. Must successfully adhere to Commandments to actually be able to pray about them. Creates a small amount of noise each turn, with weak Invo- and piety-based effects. Cannot be refreshed, but can be immediately re-used. Trains Invocation slightly while praying, and violating a Commandment while preaching about it gives immediate Zin penance!
  • Recite: Can only be used while praying. Does bigger Invo- and piety- based effects along the same theme, is a lot louder, and costs piety based on how long you're reciting for. Ends when the prayer does. Possibly, makes other actions more difficult in a way that prayer doesn't - e.g., ponderousness or a casting malus.
  • Sanctuary: Like currently, with the possibility of not protecting you against threats in sin categories you've indulged in.


Commandments should all be in the form of “Thou shalt not!”. Examples with some associated prayer effects - which should *generally* take the form of calling other people sinners, or telling them that they're wrong:

  • Thou shalt not bear my name in vain: over-reliance on Zin abilities, e.g., victory dancing
    • A prayer asking for aid in return for independence - life saving, protection, and healing type effects.
  • Thou shalt not submit to impurity of form: Avoiding mutation, rotting, disease, str/dex damage.
    • A prayer against these abominations - effects such as causing damage to *unnatural* creatures that do this, or marking them such that birds, beasts, and bugs consider them an enemy.
  • Thou shalt not submit to impurity of mind: Avoiding draining, int damage, berserking, confusion, and so on.
    • A prayer on the eternal reason and logic of Zin, attempting to convert other intelligent beings.
  • Thou shalt not use the tools of the enemy: Torment, draining, etc.
  • Thou shalt not consort with demons: Demon summoning, etc.
    • Castigate demons, causing unresistable damage but possibly enraging them with orc-style bloodlust.
  • Thou shalt not escape the mortal coil: Undead & undeath, etc.
    • Turn undead causing fear/paralysis/damage effects, which is strengthened when reciting.

Zin's lack of cohesion

I think that, beyond being weak overall, a big part of Zin's problem is that he's the only god who doesn't promote a unified style of play with his abilities. Everyone else has a thematic playstyle that can be summed up in a couple of statements: Yredelemnul is Necromancy-Lite and promotes cultivating swarms of minions, Fedhas promotes tactically reshaping the battlefield with barriers and stationary allies, Elvilion provides self-healing, Jiyva grants innate power at the expense of item access, Cheibriados is about trading speed for raw power, and so on for all the gods. Except Zin. Zin is cohesive in theme (law and holiness), but not in gameplay: he has a mishmash of generic defensive abilities that are largely redundant with the other good gods, a mishmash of offensive disabling abilities that rarely work and don't synergize with anything else, and that's pretty much it. Rather than just buffing Recite and Imprison until they don't suck, I think it would be better to seriously think about redesigning Zin (maybe drastically so) in such a way that his abilities play off each other and combine to form a distinct and useful strategy unique to the god.

For example, what if Imprison's effectiveness was drastically higher when used on targets who have recently received an unfavorable effect from Recite? Taken a step further, what if some of the generic defensive abilities were removed and replaced with some sort of Smite Evil-style ability that normally only worked on demons and chaos creatures, but any intelligent creature who resists Recite becomes marked as a sinner and becomes an eligible target? You could promote the use of Recite not just by making it always incapacitate enemies, but by turning it into a win-win scenario which gives you certain advantages even against the enemies that get hasted. Create a style of play where Recite is used all the time to split large groups into high-priority and low-priority targets, with Zin giving you the means to better fight against those marked off as the dangerous sinners.

Done well, this would require retooling Zin pretty seriously into a more offensively-minded god than he is now, but I think that in the long run it'd result in something more thematic and more useful than sticking with the current implementation and just weighting Recite and Imprison a little more towards useful outcomes. — Sjohara 2011-01-24 02:00

Giving Zin offensive abilities that are more effective after failed Recites sounds like a great way of making him look appealing enough to play. Imprison is obvious. I like the sound of the smite evil thing even if it steps on some toes–only problem is, how is it balanced? It'll have to scale really well with piety (as opposed to, say, Beogh's smite that becomes useless by midgame), for starters. But should it be smiting or affect all sinners (stepping on Chei's toes) or what? If the idea is to use recite in groups smite-targeting doesn't sound robust enough, and if it costs piety you won't be able to afford it too much if it's smite-targeted unless it's overpowered. I wonder if an ability to apply a very strong unresistable corona to all sinners would step on TSO's toes too much? No matter what, though, all the backup abilities in the world are no substitute for recite working a reasonable portion of the time. — Brickman 2011-01-24 06:50

Evaluation of Zin's current status

by — vintermann 2011-09-12 11:48

  • Forbids deliberate mutations. Not a big problem, most players don't want to risk them anyway.
  • Forbids eating sentients. Mostly an annoyance. Net effect: You may have to dip into permafood slightly more often/use hunger-causing effects a good deal less in some branches.
  • Forbids self-transmutation spells. Not an issue for most builds (you either go the self-transmutation+UC route or not, and if you do you have even less reason to choose Zin than most) but it's one playstyle locked off solely for flavour reasons.
  • Forbids polymorphing others. Not a big loss, mostly flavour.
  • Forbids evil spells, evil weapons, blood drinking. Also flavour-based lockoffs, but common to all the good gods.

Net effect of prohibitions: Several paths locked off, has less nutrition available than average.

  • Life-saving. Can be a life-saver (heh) but is not a power you pick Zin for, as you don't want to come into a position to use it. Also, 90% of the time you die the next turn anyway.
  • Imprison: Panic button, but not very reliable (few Zin winner in the forums used it at all, no great stories.
  • Sanctuary: Another panic button that you ideally don't want to come in a position to use, but powerful enough. This and the other panic button sadly are balanced by Zin's slow piety gain, limiting options for improving Zin's positive powers appeal.
  • Hell effects protection: Great, but only relevant in the extended endgame - a benefit of switching to Zin, maybe after you've used TSO to get the Pan lord runes…
  • Mutation protection: Also great, but rarely relevant until late midgame.
  • Vitalization cure of status effects - can work as panic button early to midgame. Another you don't want to have to use, but it lets you take some risks. In the middle between the two passive protection powers and the two panic buttons.
  • Vitalization stat boost - few people are spoiled enough to use it effectively, slow piety gain means it can't be used preventively like e.g. heroism.
  • Emergency feeding. A special case of life-saving. Almost as badly as regular life-saving, you do not want to be in a position where you need it.
  • One-off mutation curing: A minor treat for late game converts. If you're not coming from a good god, Jivya probably offers a better deal.
  • Gold for piety. Almost only of use for those same late game converts. IME not worth it until you know you have no more shots at bazaars/shops.
  • Last but not least: Recite. Zin's sole offensive power, requires investment in invocations but great fun to use on e.g. orc barracks, demon lava islands.

Net effect of benefits: The panic buttons are nice to have, but not something to build a character around - they have almost no synergy with other powers or particular playstyles. In contrast, Chei, Nemelex, Yred, Trog, Lugonu, Ely, TSO … almost all the other gods offer panic buttons of similar power that also have offensive and synergy potential.

The passive protection powers: Good, but main appeal (unless you count vitalization as one) is to end game/extended end game. Therefore, also not something to build a character around. The life saving powers: Might as well not be there. The occasional paranoid spriggan player might choose Zin for the food one, but the success of spriggan berserkers shows just how unreasonably careful that is.

Recite is the only power you might choose for its incorporate in a character build for: As crowd control (vs. undead, demons and humanoids). It does require significant investment in invocations to work, but that's good - a priest god give the opportunity to invest in invocations for good payoff.

Suggested improvements
  • Now that Zin permits non-intelligent allies dying, ally gameplay may be a small synergy niche for him: Maybe a recite could give similar positive boosts to allies that it gives penalties to opponents? To hit/speed/damage bonuses, healing, status ailment curing, prolonged stay, maybe even hasting and berserking at high invocation power?
  • Imprison could benefit from becoming a random effect of reciting (maybe mostly against demons). It's better to give Zin more focused crowd-control power, as opposed to a single-target escape button that sees little use.
  • The cure all mutations once thing can go. It's mostly a benefit for TSO/Ely players (through their option to convert), not Zin players, who were protected against mutations already. Speaking of which…
  • Zin's mutation protection is good, but it can be pretty well replaced by using an amulet slot. How about instead of straightway protection, Zin cures mutations regularly according to piety (I was about to say randomly, but at regular intervals is more Zin-like, hehe). This reduces mutations as a strategic threat, but keeps them as a tactical one, and is less gameable: quaffing all your gain ability potions before converting will not work. TSO converts will also have to play a while with Zin in order to get the benefits. Speaking of which…
  • Donation for piety should also go. It's another thing that's virtually only there for converts. If donations should stay, they should give something different from piety. Maybe you have to pay to get access to each recite/prayer type beyond the first? Disadvantage to this is it requires state.
  • Sanctuary is cool and powerful, but it's sad that it needs to be balanced with Zin's slow piety gain. Radical suggestion: Make sanctuary Zin's once per game power - and make it a permanent dungeon feature! (instead of being dispelled upon attacking, it should encur penance upon attacking - and fail to protect players under penance. Pets/summons should still stop attacking and move towards a player protected by sanctuary).
  • Zin should have more dynamic piety. I suggest reinstating a piety cost for recite, and removing the hunger cost. Instead, Zin should take Beogh's burial-for-piety power - beoghites have enough ways to gain piety anyway, and it's more in character for Zin to care about burial of intelligent creatures than it is for Beogh to care about the burial of unrepentant heretic orcs. Chance of piety gain could be roughly comparable to Ely's weapon destruction.
  • Hell effects protection can stay as it is. It's OK to have some treats for converts, especially if it demands that they stay converted for a while.
  • Vitalize's main effect is good as it is, but the stat boost doesn't really matter to players. Instead, “hungry” could be one of the status effects it cures (at a high enough piety price that passive piety gain alone isn't enough to stay fed, of course), replacing save-at-starvation. This would give Zin some modest synergy utility for spellcasters, something the good gods have little of presently.
Regarding imprison: it's quite reliable if you use it properly. The fact that you can trap any enemy you want in a box is great for escaping. You won't usually need to use this, but it's nice when the situation isn't bad enough to use sanctuary. There may no be “great stories” you've seen but it's a good ability.
I also disagree on your comment about basing characters around zin - zin's powers are very good for character builds who are underpowered for the extended endgame, and would prefer to “ninja” rather than fight. If you can't kill a pan lord and would probably die in a fight with one, sanctuary can help you a lot there! Also, zin is probably the best god for doing zot, if you know how to use his abilities. Overall I'd say he is a very strong god (mainly for late-game conversion) and a great alternative to TSO. I would also say that sanctuary is probably the best panic button in the game (when it comes to god powers), except maybe for lugonu's self-banishment.

Without donations, gaining piety from zin is just way too slow. There would need to be another way to gain piety, besides killing chaotics (which are just too rare to be a decent source). Burial might work but it's not perfect (you can't bury demons/undead).
For the most part, these suggestions would make zin weaker, although some of your ideas would be actual improvements. Some of them (eg making sanctuary one-time only, and the removal of piety from gold) would make him a pretty bad choice for lategame conversion, which is largely where his niche is now. One of the good things about zin is that people actually use him now, and consider him to be a legit choice. He used to be rather bad, and I'd hate to see him go back to that. If anything, I'd say zin is one of the gods least in need of “improvement”.
One thing I would point out, is that most of your suggestions seem to affect zin in the late game, rather than early game… and in my opinion, if zin is to be improved, the focus should be on his early game usability. He's not great as a starting god, even if he's good later on. — evilmike 2011-09-12 18:05
Hm, I suppose you're right, my suggestion so far might well make him weaker in net, and that is not my intention. I've been a bit careful about suggesting boosts, since Zin already has so many powers - they're just not very useful or interesting individually, for the most part.
To recap, the boosts I have suggested are recite having beneficial effect on allies, and an easier food-for-piety service than starvation salvation. Both would be primarily early game boosts, and with modest utility for casters.
Right now, Zin's relative advantage is primarily for builds who for some reason lack effective means of crowd control (a nerf of mephitic cloud would paradoxically send Zin's utility through the roof), and a very modest advantage for stabbers (since recite can confuse, put asleep and paralyze). I think the crowd control theme should be built upon. The obvious and uncreative way of doing that is making recite (even) more powerful - it's kinda powerful now, but mostly for priests who start with 4 invocation, not so much early temple converts (of which Zin has very few). Maybe making it slightly less dependent on invocation skill, and more on piety, would help with that.
The problem with making recite too powerful, is that it can get too powerful against strong individual enemies as well. I'd like to make Zin more useful, but I'd also like to make him less generally useful, and more useful in particular situations. A god you can build a character around. You can build a character around the crowd control concept (“I'll rely on conjurations/axes/javelins for most enemies, evocations if they're individually powerful, and Zin's recite when I get surrounded”), but a dedicated individual avoidance power is more of a nice-to-have thing for everybody. It's never redundant for a build, but never especially desirable for one - you don't want to be in the situation where you need to use it (barring as a colourful way of ninjaing Cerebov's rune, but that's not really all that hard.)
The problem with Zin's current late game niche is that by that point, there are not many build decisions left.
I agree piety for gold needs to be compensated for, but I think burials are a good idea to do that. Yes, it's not so good in the extended endgame, but Zin has advantages there already.

An idea: maybe recite could be more powerful on already distracted or sleeping individuals? I love the picture of a Zin zealot who sneaks up on you to startle you with a thundering denunciation. — vintermann 2011-09-12 21:20
The problem with piety from burial and the extended endgame is that piety will be very slow to build up if you're a late-game convert. You'll probably want sanctuary usable before you enter pandemonium, so you'll need to find another place to gain piety. The best way to do this would probably be by scumming the abyss. Another method might be to hold off on doing orc until you are ready to convert, and then sacrifice the corpses (and scum the levels for more orcs until you have enough piety). Gold provides a nice way to gain piety without having to use tactics like that. Note that TSO doesn't really have this issue, because he gives piety for demon/undead kills, and those are common enough (much more common than chaotics are) that it's not a problem to build piety with him. Other good gods for conversion also have similarly easy ways for building piety quickly - eg, you can convert to jiyva and sacrifice a bunch of items in a loot vault, and most of the other choices just give piety for killing in general, which allows you to just play normally. — evilmike

dolorous feedback, unedited: The analysis is good. As for the suggested improvements, I think some are much better than others, as follows:

  • Zin boosts for allies: good. I would note that the stubs for it were in Eronarn's code, but they were just never implemented, and then the stubs were removed.
  • Making Imprison a Recite effect instead of a separate power: interesting, although it would have to be made more complex.
  • Replacing Zin's mutation protection and “cure all mutations once” power with curing mutations regularly according to piety: interesting, as it makes it less of a no-brainer (sacrifice gold, wait, cure all, dump him for TSO). However, it would be tricky to make it anywhere near as reliable.
  • Donation for piety removal: very much disagree. This is unique to Zin, and provides another use for gold, in any case.
  • Sanctuary as a permanent, once-per-game power: unsure. The flavor would be good, but a permanent sanctuary could be unbalancing, I think.
  • Piety for burial moving from Beogh to Zin for sentient beings: very good, and very fitting. The gold-for-piety would have to be toned down to compensate, though.
  • Vitalise curing Hunger instead of a separate divine feeding power: good, as it fits more with his other powers.
  • I'm ambivalent on the rest of the items.
Boosts for allies does bring up the question: Which allies? Zin doesn't give allies by himself. Zin disapproves of most high-level summoning spells, and all of the spells in the Grand Grimoire. Other summoning spells give unintelligent non-humanoids; Zin's dietary restrictions suggest that Zin wouldn't care much about those creatures, and it's thematically odd that the player would stand up and give a rip-roaring sermon to a room of ice beasts and scorpions.
There were comments elsewhere about adding some more holy monsters so that god conducts for holy monsters were more interesting (the Shedu and Ophan are part of that). If Zin gifted you some relatively weak angel-type allies, it would give you someone to preach to, but they could be balanced so they aren't very useful unless you do the preaching.
Eronarn's stubs also included comments about converting, although that was never done. It would be cool if prayers against heretics had a chance of converting them to allies - although obviously that would be a large change with far-reaching effects. However, it would let the player participate in the implied religious war between Zin and Beogh over the orcs (as seen in Mennas' flavor text).
Also, it just occurred to me - for the piety gain issue, what if successfully using Zin's Recite against an eligible enemy had a chance of giving you piety? Thematically, Zin is all about converting the wicked and spreading his word; his first power is preaching and his quote upon re-entering the game is “Spread the light, my child!” It seems logical that Zin would prefer characters that spend a lot of time reciting the Axioms of Law. Recite already sets a timer which prevents you from reciting to the same monster twice in a row in a short period of time; this could be made more restrictive to prevent scumming. — Thasero

Other ideas

I am not particularly fond of these but still wanted to keep them around.

  • Chaotic creatures should abhor the devout of Zin. A status similar to Warding should be bestowed upon those of high piety. Chaotic creatures that are adjacent to the player would have chances of becoming feared, paralysed or flinching away their attacks. Shapeshifters could have a chance of being reduced to their 'natural' form whenever they are adjacent to the player. Neqoxecs could dislike feeding on the intellect of Zinnites, and be prevented from doing so.
  • Zin should very periodically assign you relevant duties to be carried out in his name. For instance, asking you to recite to a particular number of creatures on the current level, or imprison some unique. Reward would be piety.
  • Zin should not be particularly moved by combat, but approve of your survival and growth. This would be the opposite attitude of Xom who is interested in combat and wildly entertained by your hinderance and death. As such, Zin should grant piety for gaining a level, or maximizing a skill. It is already the case that he may directly intervene to save your life.
  • b0rsuk: I initially wanted Guardian Angel to be an ability of Zin. It would deffinitely stand out among other god abilities. In the end, I opted for amulet instead, because it increases number of possible combinations, and it would be a shame to exclude Makhleb and Vehumet from “mp shield” mechanic. I still see possibility to give this ability to Zin (replacing Recite!). The main obstacle is that other Zin abilities are nowhere as cool, even Sanctuary is useful mostly when you screw up badly. It doesn't really help you when you're doing well. The idea that giving Guardian Angel to Zin would limit it actually stems from a fallacy - a presumption that Zin will continue to suck and no one will want to pick him for only one useful ability (!). If Zin is designed to be sufficiently broad appeal, giving Guardian Angel to him may actually be a good move. As for Makhleb and Vehumet, in this case I'd remove Guardian Angel from amulet but leave it on fairly rare caps/helmets. Unfortunately that would remove one of more interesting amulets from the game…
    Borsuk mentions some drawbacks. I think the guardian angel could work, but that Imprison is a bit more interesting, because it works well with the Recite and law idea. — dpeg 2009-12-16 05:54
  • Zin should (partially) protect from hell effects. 2259.
  • Zin should provide protection against glow mutation 2338.
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