Size System

This page is about the affect of size on player species (and sometimes also on monsters, for consistency). For a long rant, see 2138026. I don't want to pull everything over from there, so starting from scratch. — dpeg 2010-09-08 16:53

In general

So far, “size system” has been a collection of special cases. Aside from just being chaotic, it has some bad consequences. There are special effects here and there, and often nothing in between. Don't think floundering, think water interaction. The “system” is hard to remember and not intuitive. The lack of consistency has resulted in, for example, ogres getting just the short end of the stick. Ogres are mostly defined by what they can't do.

Try to think about each aspect of size as a number line:

The idea is that it works both ways. There are effects on both extremes and between them. Size ideas should, at the very least, come in pairs. Maybe this time we won't paint ourselves into a corner. When describing an aspect, try to use ordered list (with numbers, -) instead of regular list.

Why bother ? If there's consistency, size of a creature can change. Size change as a kind of shapeshifting is extremely common in folk tales all around the world. It's a big source of inspiration. DCSS could have potions (or mushrooms !) of growth and shrinking. Dangerous dragons could be shrunk into fiery lizards. A rat may grow to be as big as an ox. Spriggans in particular were supposed to have the ability to change size. For this to happen, stats of many creatures and species should be partially derived from size. It sounds like a lot of work and can't be done in one go, but I believe it's worth it. As a bonus, if stats are partially derived from size system and size system is consistent, it will be easier for players to reason about monsters. Size can become a clue about monster's ability and threat level.

b0rsuk 2010-09-10 13:10


- Bigger creatures can see farther, but are more easily seen - Smaller creatures can't see far, but are harder to notice

Think about it - why are watch towers built so high ? Because higher building has bigger field of view. It's visually conspicuous too. So it's symmetric.

If implemented, this change would have a large, sweeping effect. Suddenly relatively weak enemies like snakes and rats populating Lair would get more interesting. You couldn't notice a pack of rats until you're pretty close. A hydra would be easy to see (and it should be !), but it would see you too. Crawl devs would gain an additional tool to distinguish similar monsters with.

One drawback of this idea is that player couldn't know size-what creatures should be visible say, 4 squares away. So a less radical proposal - you can see creatures always, but you can't recognize their type (similar to antenna mutation, but even more limited).

HP increases with size

If there's one thing that should affect HP, it's size. It's one of most basic functions of the HP system. This is not important now but might become if Transmutation spells like Shrink and Grow show up. See above.

- Smaller creatures get less HP - Bigger creatures get more HP

b0rsuk 2010-09-10 13:15

perhaps it could specifically be hpdice[2] for monsters. the min hp value for each hit dice roll. this way it still scales with hit dice smoothly. — blue_anna's page 2010-09-19 21:14

Dex vs Str

Growing 2 sizes bigger substracts 2 from Dexterity and adds 2 points of Strength. Simple enough. The idea is that you could make creatures powerful by enlarging them (self, summons, allies), and make them dart around like a mouse by shrinking them.

b0rsuk 2010-09-10 13:15

Carrying capacity

This is in: larger species can carry more (it it related to species weight but it leads to something similar).


From 2007069

  • Large races treat handedness of weapons by -1/2 hand — this allows them to use Giant Spiked Clubs
  • We may disallow the use of “1/2-handers”, so huge species cannot use short swords etc. (except as a tool)
  • Small species treat handedness of weapons by +1/2
  • When/if all dwarves become small, they could get a perk in being able to carry 1 1/2-handers (like broadaxes) together with shields.
    • This one is implemented in a branch small_dwarves; I'm not satisfied with the result, though. — kilobyte 2010-09-17 10:06

Water interaction

This refers to effects from standing in water.

  1. Tiny creatures may be unable to cross even shallow water
  2. Small creatures get higher than usual shallow water penalties, including stumbling, EV and stealth penalties.
  3. Humans behave as usual
  4. Large species won't stumble in shallow water; slow movement still applies; same rules should apply to large monsters.
  5. Very large (giants etc) creatures could treat deep water like humans treat shallow water
    • Antaeus being able to swim is kind of a “WTF” thing. Having giants walk Ymir's not Jesus' way would explain that.
  6. Huge land creatures could get no penalties whatsover from deep water

b0rsuk 2010-09-10 13:10

Wading should affect EV negatively: strongly for tiny species (Spriggans), less so for normal size, very little for large species. (kilobyte)

I'm more radical, I think spriggans could be unable to enter shallow water at all. Some starting vaults would need to be reworked. And if crawlspace is ever implemented, they could get alternate routes. That, or make spriggans a bit bigger so they can at least enter shallow water. — b0rsuk 2010-09-10 13:15
It's not just starting vaults: a less radical proposal: non-swimming tiny creatures (this includes Spriggans) take damage in shallow water. — dpeg 2010-09-16 15:33
I thought about that while designing Felids. Too bad, our dungeon generation and a crapload of vaults assume that shallow water is passable and safe. This means, we'd need a lot of work to sanely allow it to have such effects. Slowing the player, nuking EV and so on is fine, though. — kilobyte 2010-09-16 15:41
Agreed. Something that I had in mind: every turn in shallow water removes between 1/6 and 1/2 of your current HP, so is never outright deadly. You can drown at 1 HP. This should enable you to cross 4-wide layers of shallow water, even if it takes some tries. — dpeg 2010-09-16 15:54
The changes for large and very large monsters are now implemented in trunk. — dolorous 2011-02-11 05:25

Innate Hunger

We could turn the hardcoded hunger rates into a function of size (could be useful for forms, for example). The current hunger rates are

species   Sp Ha Ko Hu Na Ce Og Tr
hunger     1  2  3  3  3  4  4  9
relative  -2 -1  0  0  0  1  1  6
size      -2 -1 -1  0  1  1  1  1

where size uses 0 for normal (human-sized), -1 for small etc.


  • Base hunger is modified by relative size (-2 for Sp etc.)
  • The regeneration mutation gets different hunger costs: instead of 1 additional hunger per level, use 2. Removing their innate hunger mutation, they arrive at the same base hunger as now.
  • Nagas get base hunger reduced because they are snake-like.
The regeneration mutation never had any hunger, there is no connection between it and another mutation, fastmeta. Trolls happen to have both (regen 2, fastmeta 3).
This proposal would:

* remove a mutation in two cases, require adding it in three

  • complicate displaying hunger rates – any race with non-base size would require inhibiting hunger mutations from the display and providing custom messages. Dolorous put lots of work in removing any such special cases, re-adding them would be nasty.
  • make random fastheal mutation be mostly bad – only 0.2 regen for +2 hunger, twice as bad as the fastmeta one. Nerfing it may have some merit, but changing hunger from 0 to 2 wouldn't be a good idea.

> The first two would result in making the code more complex for no user-visible effects. — kilobyte 2010-09-17 10:06


  • Small species cannot use large shield. Tiny species cannot use normal shields.
  • Armour fits badly for large species. They cannot wear accessories made for smaller races(helmets etc.).
  • Large races could wear hides as cloaks instead of body armour. Other races might find them too big and heavy to use this way. Benefits:
    • Large races would finally get some minor advantage in this aspect. Only removing options is boring. What's interesting here is that dragon hides offer unique benefits, like immunity to sticky flame, steam. It would also be somewhat easier to find rElec as a member of large race (although you'd still miss on randart gloves, helmets, boots etc). With hides as cloaks large races could use otherwise impossible combinations.
    • Hides would finally have a point.
    • Smaller, but different choice.

What do you think about hides as cloaks ? Gold Dragon cloak could be problematic, but not more than GDA itself, and it comes late. Steam dragon hide could use some improvements, like protection from most or all clouds, not just steam. — b0rsuk 2010-09-16 14:29

I like the idea in general. There may be some rough edges, but hides never come as randarts at least. — dpeg 2010-09-16 15:33
Not bad. How would enchant armour work, though? Convert them to body armour? Or do you mean having hides wearable in either slot? — kilobyte 2010-09-17 10:06
It's difficult to justify giving hides resists in the cloak slot but not in the armor slot, and wearing a gold hide as armor would give GDA resists at the current storm dragon armor penalty, which basically means that a caster with 15 strength that avoids level 8-9 spells can get a heavy resistance robe with rP. Perhaps more realistically, a plain dragon hide armor would give rF++ (and rC-) at a scale mail penalty - do you want to add these options to the game? One option would be to remove the hides-as-armor option, which wouldn't be much loss, though it still seems strange to suddenly guarantee large races the best non-excellent-randart cloaks in the game. — og17 2010-09-17 13:07
“Would”? It already does. And with its crappy AC, it's not a bright idea, you'd want a robe instead. — kilobyte 2010-09-17 13:15
I was thinking that plain dragon armor had a larger penalty, yes. It's still an issue for gold hides, though; 4 AC isn't a downside, as no one'd scoff over a +2 randart robe. A resist robe would be the preferred option, that goes without saying, but they're intentionally very rare now. — og17 2010-09-17 13:37
Although I'm all for boosting the large races, this proposal has consistency issues. If an ogre can cut a big cloak out of a yak skin, why can't a kobold cut a small one? — vintermann 2011-02-19 15:13

Melee attacks against larger enemies

Reply of b0rsuk in 2138026:

  • An attack of a player (or monster) against someone N sizes larger performs worse. b0rsuk suggests an upper damage cap of damage = min(damage, maxdamage - maxdamage/10 * N)
    • The rationale is that a rat has problems hitting a giant in the head. — b0rsuk 2010-09-10 13:15

Melee attacks against much smaller enemies

  • An attack of a player (or monster) against someone N sizes smaller should give that target an attack of opportunity and push it away into a random space. It's just stupid to have my Troll be blocked by a butterfly! — sinsi 2010-10-10 21:43

Please avoid double-penalties and double-rewards

As an example: Centaurs have awful stealth aptitude, because they are big and have hooves. They also have a penalty to stealth (independent of aptitude), because they are big. They also have a penalty to stealth (independent of either aptitude or size) because they have hooves.

That's mostly comical for centaurs, because already from the first point stealth is so bad for a centaur that it's not going to matter if it gets any worse. It's much worse when the same double-punishing happens to armour and dodging, for instance. Big creatures should be easier to hit, right? Sure, but they already are from bad dodging apts and low dex scores. Big creatures should get increased carrying capacity, right? Sure, but they already have it from good strength scores.

The problem seems to be that over the years, players/developers have added different, at first plausible-seeming boosts and penalties based on size - usually they have been better at coming up with justifications for small size advantages than large size advantages, but that's not the main problem. The main problem is that it reoccurs several places in the system.

I suggest one size measure, a litte more fine-grained than today's, and clearly delineate which effects of it are direct, and which are better handled through strength, dexterity and aptitudes. — vintermann 2011-02-19 15:16

What's wrong with “double penalties”? I'd call them “multi-faceted penalties”, which is a good thing.
In this specific case, big races being bad dodging while having bodies ill-fit for armour, can be easily offset by making the hp boost meaningful. A maxxed KoBe has 241 hp, a maxxed OgBe 300, an increase of mere 24%. — kilobyte 2011-02-19 23:29

Assorted ideas

  • Size affects stealth in the obvious way.
    • For now I'll just say every coin has two sides. I have something on my mind. — b0rsuk 2010-09-16 14:29
I greatly dislike this entire page. It's all a bunch of changing stuff for the sake of changing stuff. None of this solves any problem, real or potential.
Size isn't broken; don't fix it. — tgw 2010-10-23 17:37
The above is a mere assertion without anything backing it up. Size isn't even broken, it's effectively nonexistent in Crawl. Currently it has barely more impact on the game than flavor text. — b0rsuk 2010-10-23 22:32
New features that use size, sure. Floundering, sure, that could be done better. But collecting a bunch of existing racial attributes under the “size” umbrella isn't making it more relevant. Each race and form only has one size, and the properties of a race are inseparable from the properties of its size. In the end, this just shuffles around internal stuff with no visible benefit. Worse, it makes a lot of stuff behave strangely. Spider form would grant sustenance and reduce your HP, and kill you because your strength is too low. Dragon form would you with low dex. I assume this would be special-cased like the weight cap for spider form, but what's the point? Growth and shrinking just strike me as a boring version of forms. — tgw 2010-10-23 22:52
You didn't bother to read very far into, did you ? Size is separatable from race. All you need is a shrinking potion or spell. Size changes are very common in folk tales, and they're a great source of inspiration. Spriggans in particular are known for changing sizes. Growing and shrinking may be a boring version of forms now, but that's because size system doesn't work (and/or you lack the imagination to see the point). If size was meaningful in the game, size change would also be meaningful. — b0rsuk 2010-10-24 08:45
A lot of things are very common in fairy tales. Many of them aren't in Crawl, and some of them don't need to be. Anyway, shuffling around hunger, strength, and HP will not make size more interesting. Trampling and stuff can do that. Potion of hunger-strength-and-HP is not an awesome item that needs to be added to Crawl ASAP. It's boring. Tying random existing attributes to size is a misguided attempt to make size matter and messes with forms (which include size changing as well as separate interesting mechanics). — tgw 2010-10-25 06:24
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dcss/brainstorm/mutation/size.txt · Last modified: 2011-12-22 00:30 by XuaXua
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