Fixing the Vampire Endgame


While I actually haven't yet experienced the Vampire endgame myself, I've heard some complaints about it relayed to me by dpeg, and they make logical sense. They are that:

  1. Due to the lack of healing, bloodless is pretty underwhelming when you consider that one is forced to remain in it throughout the endgame (especially extended endgame) – forced, that is, unless one…
  2. …artificially maintains “fridges” in blood-rich areas, to periodically, and tediously, raid during the (extended) endgame.

(I've also heard secondhand of a complaint that potions of blood are boring, but I don't know what that means, not sure I'd agree if I did know, and doubt I'd have a solution proposal if I did agree.)

Below are ideas for solutions to the two above problems, one solution proposal per problem.

Lackluster Bloodless

Due to the lack of healing… …This is the really critical part. What with not having the routes open that DD's have, never being able to regenerate again (and even potion effects get halved!) until you next encounter living creatures is too cruel – especially if we make fridges impractical.

So the core of this proposal is healing. Specifically, limited-count fullheals, available only at Bloodless. These would come via a new ability:

Autophagia*: Available only to DL20+ Vampires, only at Bloodless satiation. Trade X% (I propose 10% as a rough draft) of MaxHP permenantly for a fullheal. No other costs. Assuming that that's 10% of original MaxHP, then you get to do it 10 times (well, 9) and you're dead for good. Assuming that that's 10% of the new, reduced MaxHP, then that's Zeno's Arrow but it's still not a lot more than 10. Suffices plenty for 3 or 4 runes, while not sufficient for the extended endgame. I'm OK with that - I think having a race or two that's not fit for that phase is fine, especially if they're solid races overall.

The DL20 requirement is included due to 2 benefits it would give:

  • It gives the player something to look forward to during the Vampire midgame, instead of the niftiness stopping at DL10,
  • The ability is a little too powerful to have handy before the late midgame.

Now naturally this is going to get compared to Borgnjor's Revivification, and the latter costs AFAICT a good bit less than 10% of MaxHP. On the other hand it's non-guaranteed, clogs up 5 spell slots, and forces you heavily down the Necro path - which Vampires are good at, I know, but this way they're not straitjacketed into it!

That's all this half of the proposal needs for this stage, I think.

* Name credit goes to dpeg. I'd'a called it “Bite Your Own Arm.”

Saying “What with not having the routes open that DD's have” seems a bit questionable, as though vampires can't worship Ely or charge wands through MP, they still share a number of options and have at least one unique one (Kiku). And I don't think players would consider repeatedly throwing away a tenth of their health to be more attractive than simply switching gods like everyones else does. Also don't think it'd be more attractive than learning a single-school level five spell, except that it's barred from the race - but if access to this sort of effect is considered to be helpful when bloodless, wouldn't it make more sense to allow vampires to learn Borgnjor's and use it regardless of satiation, instead of giving them a racial ability that's identical in everything but cost? Also unsure why such an ability is meant to address the lack of natural regeneration - I'd think that removing the penalty on consumables would be a better place to start. — OG17 2010-04-01 06:05

Tedious Fridges Rewarded

No harm in rewarding clever play, of course! But fridge maintenance and use is not only clever, it's also tedious. And rewarding tedious play penalizes non-tedious play, and thus drives players who “value their own life” to torture themselves with tedious play… yuck!

My look at the issue, and the foundation for my proposal here, is this: the main use of a vamp fridge is to crack low-food areas, and these can be divided into “soft” and “hard.”

The “soft” areas are ones close to a food source, where the tedium level of fridges is minimal and thus I think that they can still be safely ignored by the game design, that is:

  • Slime
  • Crypt
  • Blades

The “hard” areas are ones that – if not at their start, then at least at their end – are far from a food source, where fridge play simply must die:

  • Abyss
  • Pan
  • Hells
  • Tomb

(Abyss is a bit debatable, since you can still sometimes end up there rather innocently.)

The “hard” foodless areas all share two narrative traits in common:

  • They're scary.
  • They're evil.

And my proposal is to grab one of these two traits and use it to justify breaking fridges by nuking blood potions upon entry to the “hard” foodless areas. My favorite here, even though it's a bit corny, is to grab hold of “They're scary,” giving us this:

“This place is blood-curdling! Your potions of blood coagulate!”

I prefer coagulation to shattering from the standpoint of being nice to people who are encountering this change for the first time, but if a harder line needs to be taken here, shattering works too, and a bit more seriously, if more awkwardly, using the “They're evil” narrative:

“This place is hostile to life itself! Your potions of blood are ruined!”

Naturally both of these routes could use better text.

It'll still be possible to use fridges to eat your way up to “Alive” and then go on a Mexican hayride, but my intuition is that that will no longer be enough to make fridges attractive, especially if Autophagia is there as an alternative. Some opinions of players with Vampire endgame experience would be appreciated here.

That's it for a foundation here. I don't doubt it needs to be built upon, but this should give us a start! — erisdiscordia 2010-04-01 00:39

If regeneration is an issue in some areas, why remove a source of regeneration in those areas? And if players feel the need to do something deemed “tedious,” it's far better to address the underlying cause than it is to take away their toy, and a high-cost panic button surely isn't going to be seen as a general-use solution. Also, it'd be more than a little odd to be able to bottle blood but not to take it into areas without drainable enemies - it certainly seems like doing so would be an explicitly intended use of the ability. — OG17 2010-04-01 06:05
Many thanks Erik!
re OG17: It would help immensely if you came up with proposals instead of downplaying actual input. The two issues are clear: bloodless Vampires are strong, but encouraged (some would say forced) to do funny things, like leaving the battlefield in the heat of action and hunting down one of the sheep they intentionally left alive in Shoals. This is nifty once, but tedious as a mechanic. I am considering throwing out the Vampire species if we won't solve these issues, so ideas are very welcome. — dpeg 2010-04-01 09:23
Do you want a general solution? Address the dearth of corpses in endgame areas. This would keep quite a few necromantic and poison spells relevant (along with associated weapon brands), allow for full use of all gods while dampering TSO's supremacy, and, incidentally, fix up any odd racial quirks. Every area of non-negligible size could use some kind of creature that drops a corpse, even if they're comparatively uncommon, as there's so much in the game that requires corpses and/or is useless against demons and undead. Vampires are only a symptom, and as I said above, they're able to get around it anyway. — OG17 2010-04-01 17:05
I think the same as OG17, some corpse-dropping monsters for the endgame areas would help a lot. It's great that different areas are differently difficult for different disciplines, but at the moment it is rather binary. — evktalo 2010-04-02 13:37
I can't agree enough with OG17 on this. Either way there would still be serious branches without corpses (Crypt, Tomb depending on interpretation, but certainly Slime Pits). I'll try to post something about demons being boring later today. — b0rsuk 2010-04-02 17:16
I agree with OG17, and made an addendum to directly relevant to this discussion (didn't want to double-post, sorry if this is the wrong protocol). — straydusk 2010-05-25 02:08
Slime and crypt (and abyss) already have corpses; the spawn numbers could be tweaked where needed (current slime corpses are undrinkable, though). Tomb could get some sort of scorpion, rat, snake, scarab, or the like (current bugs are also undrinkable). Give Pan DS enemies, either simply or going full-out with draconian-like jobs. Hells could have hell knights, hell hounds could become living, there could be new branch-flavored creatures, whatever. Maybe Tartarus should remain lifeless - could have vampire monsters more commonly drop blood potions. Blades is one level, it doesn't need anything.

Fixing “vampires” would require some new enemy types, sure (at least to do it well), but I don't think it'd be a massive undertaking. And yeah, living enemies would get roughed up by friendly torment, but there could be special provisions for that if desired (eg resistance, immunity). — OG17 2010-04-02 18:07
The addition of already extant or new worm-genus and/or blowfly-genus monsters would be a pretty thematically consistent, corpse generating addition to Tomb and Crypt. Granted, the embalming and preservation techniques that the mummies there have undergone would render them more resilient to the predation by such creatures, but the overall motif of decay would be retained while simultaneously allowing hungrier builds to succeed there. I mean, the game already even cites Edgar Allan Poe's “The Conqueror Worm” upon the examination of a worm. Alternatively, forensic entomologists also rely on beetles, wasps, ants and mites, which are all already units anyway (echoing OG17's suggestion). Moths are also a very important resource for scientists in that field, though I doubt putting Moths of Wrath there would be very thematically consistent. — straydusk 2010-05-25 14:46
As I overlooked, bugs aren't drainable, though it'd be reasonable enough to imagine something like a “bloodworm.” But rats or snakes are likely better, I'd think. — OG17 2010-09-02 00:56


StudioMK 2010-09-02 00:09: Playing a lot of Vampires, I can say that there are some severe issues with the extended endgame. By the time you start doing Hells, Pan, or Abyss you *must* scum the dungeon for blood, or die from lack of regeneration (wands of healing are not guaranteed).

Several strategies must be used which I'll describe here (so you can see how tedious it is).

  • Fixed gods: Kikubaaqudgha or Makhkeb. This is a very restricted choice.
  • Potion Scumming: What it sounds like. You go around Lair looking for Yaks, kill them, bottle their blood. Then you take as little number of turns as possible to get to the area you want, fight away and when you run out of blood, go back looking for more. Probably the most tedious (since you might die when looking around).
  • Fridge: Find a bunch of high blood monsters and kite them to wherever (eg. Vestibule). Then you cast metabolic englaciation and leave them until you need more blood. For Pandemonium, you take them with you through the portal and on each pan level, dig a tunnel and leave them in it. If you forget to take it with you and are bloodless with no potions, you're dead.
  • Enslavement: This involves finding a high AC monster (eg. Iron Troll) and enslaving it, then recasting enslavement until you get it to where you want (eg. Tomb). You cast EH and let it sleep there. When you run out of health, you go back, cast petrify, then use a vampiric weapon to heal. After this you sleep it again and go back to the fight. For Tomb I needed to visit the troll around ten times, all the while trying to use tactics that prevent myself from receiving damage. This strat works in Pan too and is similar to the fridge but has a greater risk (troll resisting whilst a bunch of 1s are around, and then dying to hellfire/torment).
  • Jiyva: Dig a tunnel in Pandemonium and summon demon until you get a neqoxec. Make it hostile and let it gesture at a jelly until it polymorphs into a rat. Kill the rat and suck the blood. This is the most tedious of them as it takes around 5k turns to get a neqoxec and sometimes the jelly will be killed.
    Alternatively you just invoke penance by casting polymorph other on a Jelly (emergencies).
  • Cigotuvi Morphing: Wear an amulet of resist mutation and degenerate a monster. With rMut it is essentially harmless and you can take it around with you in Pan. When you need HP you polymorph it and use a vampiric weapon, then degenerate it again and sleep it. Very tedious as you can sometimes kill it by accident, in which case you'll have no source of healing and probably die. Plus waiting for it to heal is a great way to have a bunch of 1s come into your tunnel and kill you (this happened to my VpEn).
  • Acquirement Saving: Go around the abyss in bat form looking for scrolls of acquirement and keep them. When you need blood you acquire food. Worked for me when I needed healing after fighting Cerebov. Risk that the scrolls will burn.

These strats are all against Crawl's philosophy (anti-scumming) but are necessary if you don't want to go Kiku/Makhleb. Now I'll offer some solutions.

  • Blood fountains: In Pandemonium at times I'd find fountains of blood. This is great, gives me a source of healing and I can continue going around killing things. Unfortunately, you aren't able to bottle the blood in the fountain so if you leave and have no potions (plus don't find another one in time) you'll die. I suggest you make these fountains spawn at a higher rate in Pandemonium and allow Vampires to bottle it. We can then choose any god and have a chance to survive. Other characters get to find perma-food in Pan so why can't Vampires get blood.
  • Monster sets: simply adding more drainable monsters to those areas.
  • Satiation from Max MP: I think if you gave Vampires the ability to sacrifice 1 Max MP for max Satiation then Pan/Hells/Abyss become playable without any weird strategies.
  • Sleep: Alternatively, for flavour, a 'sleep' ability where you go dormant (for 500 turns) and, when you emerge, you will be healed. This comes with the risk of something killing you when you're dormant, though (so obviously not used in combat or in an uncleared pan level).

Some more remarks by StudioMK: The Abyss is fine for a Vampire since bat-form makes most monsters trivial. Unfortunately if you run out of blood and an executioner appears, you're dead. As for Hells, this is probably the worst unless hell effects spawned more dragons. Simply walking will get you killed.

Good analysis, many thanks. Personally, I am not so much concerned with the fact that (non-Kiku/Makhleb) Vampires have a tough time collecting all runes. That would be somewhat acceptable — what is really annoying is that (some of the) scummings are attractive (or at least available) at any time. Getting rid of those would help a lot, but I have no idea how to prevent the monster luring (which seems to be the ultimate form of such scums). Of the proposals, I love the reference to blood fountains. I don't like being able to bottle potions from fountains so much (although it would be consistent in a way). However, simply adding more blood potions to Pan would do the trick. The Satiation idea is okay, but I think the price suggested here is too mild: the other half of this wiki has something similar (under the guise of “autophagia”) and the proposed price there is something like 10% of Max HP. — dpeg 2010-09-02 01:32
I like the 10% HP price as opposed to 1 MP, a weaker borg of types but still acceptable. Thanks for the formatting by the way. — StudioMK 2010-09-02 02:41
You have “no idea how to prevent the monster luring?” Here is an idea: living monsters refuse to enter pan. Enslaved or not, it's an abhorrent plane and they instinctively want nothing to do with it. Problem solved. Extend this to the abyss and hells, if necessary for gameplay. Beogh's orcs are exceptions, as they're fanatics that'd follow you anywhere.

As far as Jiyva goes, slimes should only polymorph into other slimes. I imagine there's other problems caused by this. — OG17 2010-09-02 03:32
When a better way of getting blood is given (eg. blood fountains, blood sausage) in late-game areas, no player would bother luring monsters or polymorphing slimes. I wouldn't anyway. As for slimes polymorphing into other slimes, it would mean melee characters wouldn't be able to polymorph a jelly with a wand to avoid corrosion, or they would but they'd likely get something much much worse (as opposed to the orc/gnoll/rat). — StudioMK 2010-09-02 18:23
I meant that specifically to avoid Jiyva strangeness - nonworshippers' polymorphing could remain unrestricted, sure. — OG17 2010-09-02 20:00

Been doing some thinking, and now I actually have an idea how to prevent the monster luring. Please be aware in advance that while this idea came out of Vampire concerns, it addresses much more than that. The basic idea is that the monsters on levels not visited for a while can change:

  • If you re-visit a level after N turns, there is a chance for each monster to disappear. This chance increases with N and the player's total threat (we can use something like total xp from kills for this) and decreases with the monster's HD. This would mean that e.g. rats would simply not be there anymore most of the time (assuming that you leveled up a bit in the meantime).
  • If you re-visit a level after N turns, there is a chance for each monster to be changed. A monster not belonging to the native population of an undead branch can be turned undead (zombie, skeleton, simulacrum). Otherwise, the monster can be improved (to a tougher specimen of the branch) — here we need to be careful so that total xp per dungeon level will not increase from this.
  • Uniques are exempt from these rules. (It might be fun to allow uniques to relocate to another level (in the same branch, say) after a while, but it may be better for gameplay reasons to just let them stay where encountered first.)

These changes mean that monsters you want to keep for later may simply vanish — if you value the xp, kill it now. Monsters that are (still) threats are likely to stay, so that hydra you left Lair:2 for will probably still wait for you. The combination of these will make fridging monsters anywhere much more unreliable. And with that, we can think about addressing the other Vampire issues. — dpeg 2010-09-04 21:34

What is “much more than that?” Vampires seem to be the only thing here - where is this needed for other aspects of the game? It seems that it'd make much more sense to address the need for fridges instead of the fridges themselves, as changing fundamental monster/map mechanics like this and then making said changes unnecessary feels backwards, to say the least. And how would this prevent luring, anyway? — OG17 2010-09-04 22:01
I agree with OG17. And something like this introduces additional problems: eg. finding a bad level and waiting in the Temple until the level changes/monsters disappear.
Solve the need for fridges and luring becomes pointless (introducing sausages as a form of permafood). You can add sausages now and I'll see how it plays in 0.8. — StudioMK 2010-09-04 22:49
Something to the fridge-abuse exists in other places, too: Elyvilonites leaving pacification fodder (also for tactical purposes). Deep Dwarves fridging with Vampiring Draining. (This is why addressing Vampires, e.g. with black pudding, will not solve fridges.) Casters leaving yak bands behind for food purposes. My point (which I did not make very well) is that we'll gain something from having monster populations adapt when a player returns. (As opposed to what I wrote before, simply waiting should not affect the level. It should make a difference when you come back with more experience, however.) My proposal is general enough to allow turning out-of-branch monsters into slimes (of some kind) for Slime, into undead versions for the various undead branches. This is balance and flavour gain at the same time. — dpeg 2010-09-05 00:04

No permafood

The whole problem is caused by blood potions rotting away. This makes Vp the only race that lacks some sort of permafood. Ghouls may be not fully satisfied with permafood, but with it, they can last orders of magnitude longer than Vp.

Thus, wouldn't it be simpler to have coagulated blood consistent with porridge? It's weird to have one potion that doesn't work like any others. — KiloByte 2010-09-02 02:44

I agree, this makes it much easier but then a Vampire would be able to stay alive pretty much forever (which is bad? then again, there are mummies). Though doing this would prevent the need to scum for blood as you'll actually have enough blood to last anyway. I think maybe if blood didn't rot whilst in the inventory (for a Vampire), but rotted normally on the ground; maybe a passive ability at XL13 where “You can preserve potions of blood in your inventory”. The massive weight of potions would prevent them carrying too much anyway (if they want to bat form) and most spellcasters start with very poor strength. — StudioMK 2010-09-02 02:59
Turning blood potions into permanent chunks would remove the race's uniqueness by making blood management and healing a total nonissue. That said, it might not be entirely outlandish to replace sausages with fantasy blood sausages and allow vampires to gain a potion's nutrition from them - they're rare enough so that the race's mechanics wouldn't be trivialized, but could be useful in emergencies. — OG17 2010-09-02 03:32
Meat rations/sausages then? Enough to get near bloodless so a Vampire can heal themselves with regenerate or long waiting, but not enough to satiate (making getting actual blood more ideal). Sausages are *too* rare (cleared whole dungeon and only one sausage). Realistically, those things should have the stuff to give a Vampire a little energy… meat 'n' all. — StudioMK 2010-09-02 04:52
Vampires don't eat meat and rations are everywhere. — OG17 2010-09-02 05:02
They don't eat the meat, they suck the last remaining blood from the meat. Anyway TGWi had a good idea in ##crawl, as a joke, but it's still a good idea: the addition of a new food item, black pudding. Or maybe there's no need, the sausage is pretty much the same thing right. — StudioMK 2010-09-02 18:19
It's literally the same thing; I can only hope that he didn't arrive at it independently. — OG17 2010-09-02 20:00

Established Ideas

Preserve: A spell that stops items in your inventory from decaying. Could be through Necromancy, or Ice Magic, or Hexes, or a combination of these. Number of items/duration of spell is dependant on spell power. Alternatively it only affects chunks/blood in your hands (you must wield it) and starts to decay when back in the inventory.

Blood sausage: Once eaten, brings a Vampire from bloodless to the bottom end of very thirsty.

Blood bank

This proposal tries to keep the end-game branches uncomfortable for vampires (they need to get back to the dungeon to heal and stock up on potions of blood) while removing the tedium of healing and stocking up on potions of blood in the dungeon. Work might still be required to disable the scummy techniques for healing in pan noted above.

* Vampires get to divert blood to a blood bank. To make this easy on the interface, whenever they bottle blood, an equal part gets stored in the bank automatically. * In the dungeon, vampires can visit their blood bank to heal and/or collect potions of blood. They can only do this when unobserved. This would be an (a)bility.

rob 2010-09-04 23:44


No change at all. Several people have said the endgame is fine. Other characters may have a hard time all-runing with specific gods so if it were to be an additional challenge for the Vampire role (to win without Kiku or Makhleb), this would be acceptable. If that were the case, I'd have to suggest that monster luring remain unchanged. — StudioMK 2010-09-05 00:02

Interface Quirks and Smoothening Thereof

On predicting/handling changing blood levels

Lies about safety of corpse draining

When draining a corpse brings the player into a blood level bracket without resistances needed to handle the blood (is this just pois/rpois from Thirsty?), it ends up hurting the player without warning (the corpse looks safe and there's no prompt). I suggest stopping before applying bad blood effects or at least prompting when this could happen. — MrMisterMonkey 2011-01-09 01:50

In a hostile environment

Vampires should get warnings when consuming blood would bring them to a level in which their environment would start hurting them (e.g. drinking blood while standing in miasma and Thirsty), and for smoother combat, perhaps also disable blood-drinking auxes (fangs?) if this would happen (unless the aux is supposed to be a bad thing in situations like this, which I consider silly design, but whatever). — MrMisterMonkey 2011-01-09 01:50

On blood level management

Smoother blood level reduction

It would be nice if there was some way, other than waiting forever or spamming hunger-inducing abilities, to reduce blood level. It's probably bad to have this be an instant reduction usable during combat, so I was thinking either some sort of ability to drain blood from oneself (impossible to bottle), either spanning over a few turns (can't rely on it to work in tight spots) or dramatically reducing HP (dangerous/unusable in tight spots). — MrMisterMonkey 2011-01-09 02:17

Reducing HP would be counter-productive. If you want to go down to satiated or thirsty you'd just have to wait for the HP to regenerate anyway (and risk being randomly attacked while still injured), and if you want to get to bloodless you'd rather wait then spend HP that you'll no longer be capable of regenerating. — Sjohara 2011-01-10 21:22
Perhaps purging blood in whatever fashion leaves the vampire slightly weakened or dazed from the sudden loss, resulting in confusion, lowered EV, or penalties to accuracy and damage. Only for a few turns, but enough that you wouldn't want to do it in combat. — nicolae 2011-04-29 02:01

One-click bloodless

In my experience one significant tedious aspect of Vampires is the need to mash 5 a lot when you want to become bloodless. To make going bloodless more convenient I propose Vampires have an innate ability that takes you to 0 satiation. Flavor-wise this isn't a stretch - a Vampire is already adept at siphoning blood from a corpse into a bottle, so it should probably be capable of removing the blood from its own body. To prevent the player from using this as a tactical option (for instance when a tormentor comes into view), the bloodletting process should probably take multiple turns and be cancelled if damage is taken (which would also prevent it from being used to avert poison death). — some12fat2move 2013-01-27 19:32

Vampirism as a Mutation

Instead of a race, make this a mutation available to any race. Seperate it into 3 tiers, like other mutations. Vampiric monsters may cause this mutation occasionally. Please add more thoughts on this. I'm sure I wasn't the first person to think of this. For all tiers allow drinking of blood.

Tier 1. When hungry or less add slow regeneration and movement speed, and when full or more add fast regeneration and movement speed. Allow chunk eating for 70% the normal nutrition.

Tier 2. Vampirism as it is, minus the ability to go bloodless, and bat form. Where normal bloodlessness was, starvation begins. Allow eating of chunks for 30% nutrition.

Tier 3. Normal Vampirism. No chunks.

I don't know what could be done for spriggan vampires, really. Perhaps they would have to avoid this mutation like a death sentence. Or better in my opinion would be allowing racial mutations to be cured, but that might unbalance them a bit. —Zzz 2011-04-19 21:42

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