(most common other names: tenofswords, GreatOrbOfEyes, claws)

I've made a lot of vaults and patches for cleaning up vaults.

I dislike a variety of varied peoples' guts for a lot of varied reasons but to to put it succinctly, I've gotten close to giving up on what I perceive as a huge variety of issues with the varied crawl communities and development patterns. Echo chambers mentalities, irresponsible development patterns, nihilistic responses…

Regardless, having spent years on the little art of vault design, I'm still interested in improving particular small areas of Crawl while I can, as I can.

Here are varied documents and write-ups of mine.


Most of these will lag far behind trunk.

    • Mostly useful for the minimap screenshot collection to put names to looks.
    • Was mostly made to illustrate the many new layouts added by mumra in 0.12/0.13. mumra should have his own updated copy for all of the changes he does…
    • Mostly for highlighting gaps in content, though an interesting bit of practice overall. Should really make an altars section.
    • (obsoleted with the !killratio command, but whatever)
    • With some help from |amethyst, these illustrate rough estimates of spawn percentages per floor directly according to the source, including out-of-depth calls for certain branches. There are also some hypothetical branch changes embedded in these… and the potential from direct assessment here allows decent future population adjustments, once one can comprehend the full spreadsheets.


Long word walls not based solely off of the source or bots.

  • Vault Design manifestos: personal attempt, collective attempt
    • The former was based around trying to put thoughts to varied design decisions; to tell new vaultmakers problems around varied available features and what was of interest in design with these level chunks. Every once in a while I'll throw in more thoughts.
    • The latter was briefly established after a scuffle on the topic of the abscence of explicit vault standards after st_ removed many vault monsters in a patch; I repuporsed some sections of the former document into trying to explain what was good or bad about varied gimmicks in vaults. Others responded over time.
      • I believe there was some derailment over time on trying to explain all aspects of vaults and some individuals taking key pieces of design for granted - the qualities of design are immaterial enough that to say “stuff should be interesting” is fluff, and more thought needs to be put in. Varied personal beliefs on varied gimmicks still stand, and some time later I'll absorb some of the brought up ideas from this secondary document into my primary slow little attempt.

Monster designs

I hope I've managed to do better than most idea-engineering for Crawl in being acutely aware of varied niches needing of monsters and constraining ideas to directly reflect off what works with other currently-in monsters. I'd certainly eventually code up and submit patches for most of these, eventually. Asterisks (*) denote temporary or placeholder names.

Timekeeper Ouroboros

  Timekeeper Ouroboros
  Though the dungeon's naga are wise enough to not slow themselves further,
  a few rare serpents, as their intelligent but limbless brethren, dedicate
  themselves to the worship of Cheibriados and partake in a secretive ritual
  of devotion. These serpents embody eternity and renewal, permanently
  biting their own tails and entwining themselves around a mystical, hand-less
  clock, and in exchange possess a nasty control over time for their efforts.
  Though they voluntarily roll forth slowly, they can distort time to close
  in on prey, distort time around intruders for heavy damage proportional to
  their wasteful haste, or even irresistibly slow foes kept in direct contact.
  MONS_TIMEKEEPER_OUROBOROS, 'S', WHITE, "timekeeper ouroboros",
  { 14, 3, 5, 0 },

The Snake Pit needs more variety for such a very limited set, and this combines some flavour ideas for it, with Cheibriados worship for a branch dedicated to slow monsters and one of the most famous mythological serpents, the ouroboros. The abilities are severe and complicated enough that it should serve in a rare boss status, akin to ghost moths in the Spider Nest rune vault.

Three abilities:

  • Temporal Distortion, cheating-monster edition: since the invocation allows monsters to get closer to the player, this does the same thing… by letting the monster move while time's stopped. The ability moves the caster right beside the player, but due to time being frozen the caster needs the direct path to the player to be open; this keeps it distinct from the Blink Close of vampire knights and jumping spiders in that it doesn't let them leap over allies (so they can make use of the other two abilities), but still allows the ouroboros to move slowly without letting players easily escape individual ones.
  • Renewal by Delay*: Allies support option. Heals a target and removes their status effects by thematically reversing time and their recent damage, temporarily (though for a long while relative to combat) and proportionally. If a timekeeper is killed, the effect should reverse after a few turns itself, to reduce the innate frustration of enemy healing and instead allow the satisfaction of some enemies nearly dying after taking out a priority target.
  • Slouch. The Snake Pit is big on raw damage, so Slouch readily fits in, and is an iconic, unique ranged option that doesn't threaten other Chei worshippers. Numbers will have to be carefully balanced so that spriggans and felids aren't readily annihilated but it still serves a decent threat to default speed species, though.
  • Bend Time. Compensation for the lack of constriction and allows still being distinct when managing to get next to the player in the mass collections of monsters in rune vaults. Acts as irresistable, melee-range, single target slow to not annoy allies, broken whenever not in melee-range; slow is nasty and common enough, so being both very difficult to avoid and very easy to remove, combined with strong ranged capabilities and limited-blink-close on a slow monster, should round out the Chei theme well enough.
about Renewal by Delay: I have a feeling that this will be underwhelming in practice. There are a number of monsters with “heal ally” effects and I find it's hard to notice or just irrelevant. I think it's because crawl is a game where most enemies have low HP and dies very quickly. Nagas are more robust than most, but even for them I have doubts about a healing spell being interesting. Removing debuffs also sounds mediocre to me - consider that nagas are already poison resistant and have high MR (and greaters are just immune).

If you're going for a chei theme, have you thought about giving some version of bend time? A melee ranged slow effect might be interesting combined with their temporal distortion spell. Obviously the AI would know not to use slouch if you're too slow for it to damage you, but slouch is more of a ranged option anyways. I'm not sure how a monster version of bend time should exactly work. I think it would have to be single target (so friendly nagas aren't slowed) and maybe just unresistable, since the player version uses an HD check. Unresistable is nasty, so the effect could be broken on killing the oroborus or maybe even just breaking out of melee range. I don't know if this is a good idea really, I just think it fits the chei theme better than a healing spell. — evilmike 2014-01-03 17:48
On further contemplation, I like and agree with these suggestions, and have altered the above text to fit it. The healing spell was meant to reflect an old idea of Major Heal Other that would be nasty by being reliably massive, but monster healing is an awkward situation, as stated. — Hangedman 2014-01-04 21:36


Commit write-up
  New abyss monster: Worldbinders, highly varied, weak summoners.
  This monster is intended to solve several issues and desires at once:
  cut into the high spawning weight of ynoxinuls on current Abyss:1 and
  demons in Abyss overall with roughly equivalent threats filling the
  same niches; provide higher amounts of Abyss variety; and tap into
  the vast flavour and potential of outsiders stuck in Abyss without
  the highly in-discriminatory, diluting, imbalanced feature of taking
  major portions of floor spawns from other branches.
  A worldbinder is a weak, fast cyan x for the Abyss with trapdoor spider
  health and on an individual monster basis the ability to summon lesser
  threats from one of Orc, Elf, Lair, Snake, Swamp, Shoals, Spider,
  Vaults, Crypt, and Forest. Example summons include orc priests, blink
  frogs, mermaids, wraiths, and fauns, with the top tier of threats
  consisting of monsters such as elephants, shadow wraiths, wind drakes,
  and vault sentinels. The monster ability summons only one each time,
  has a summon cap of 3, and minimum duration.
  They take about a third of the weight from ynoxinuls
  (2% from the previous ynoxinul spawn weight of 5.5% for Abyss:1).
  The abjuration on summoner's death feature and slow, limited summoning
  process (summon cap of 3, one summon per cast, minimum duration time),
  combined with the circumstances of Abyss, should try to keep these
  summoners relatively better off than most still-complained-about summons.
  I do worry about the heavy spoiler conditions involved in such a complex
  monster, but the choices of summons shouldn't be lethally surprising
  for players capable of surviving and escaping other Abyss-unique threats,
  and most monsters summoned should make the branch / danger tier obvious.
  MONS_WORLDBINDER, 'x', CYAN, "worldbinder",
  { {AT_HIT, AF_PLAIN, 8}, {AT_HIT, AF_PLAIN, 8},
     AT_NO_ATK, AT_NO_ATK },
  { 8, 3, 4, 0 },
Summon sets
  • Orc: orc priest w:9 / orc warrior w:7 / warg w:3 / troll w:1
  • Elf: deep elf fighter w:9 / deep elf priest w:7 / deep elf mage w:4
  • Lair: yak w:8 / blink frog w:6 / elephant w:4 / spiny frog w:2
  • Snake: naga w:9 / water moccasin w:7 / black mamba w:3 / guardian serpent w:1
  • Swamp: raven w:6 / swamp drake w:6 / vampire mosquito w:4 / insubstantial wisp w:4 / baby alligator w:2
  • Shoals: merfolk w:8 / mermaid w:6 / manticore w:4 / snapping turtle w:2
  • Spider: spider w:8 / jumping spider w:6 / boring beetle w:4 / orb spider w:2
  • Vaults: human w:8 / yaktaur w:6 / ironheart preserver w:4 / vault sentinel w:2
  • Crypt: wraith w:8 / shadow w:6 / vampire w:4 / shadow wraith w:2
  • Forest: spriggan w:8 / giant firefly w:6 / faun w:4 / wind drake w:2
  • Ignored: Blade, Zot, Abyss, Hells, Pan, Tomb, portals. The only good portal set concepts that'd work are rather item-destruction heavy and non-ideal elementally-forced threats for the monster.
  • Balance, hrm. Orc has ranged; Lair has fast monsters; Elf has item destruction, hexes, fast monsters, and ranged; Snake has debilitating constriction and fast monsters; Swamp has confusion and fast monsters; Shoals has mesmerize and ranged; Spider has ensnare debilitation, ranged, fast monsters, and terrain damage; Vaults has ranged and the extremely dangerous Sentinel's Mark; Crypt has hexes and an invisible monster; forest has hexes, fast monsters, and ranged. The least dangerous set is probably Orc's and the most dangerous is Vault's.
  • Some sets may look very odd, even if the summon message explicitly mentions which branch, but the monster is explicitly constrained by not being much stronger than the ynoxinul, and not all branches have monsters to readily spare.
  A cloud of thick fog, with faint, feeble claws constantly reaching
  out and grasping futily before being pulled back in by the fog.
  Worldbinders tie themselves to specific locations and absorb part of
  the weaker natives banished to the Abyss, enabling them to summon
  echos from one of many locations against percieved threats.
  Forceful Invitation
  This ability differs on an individual monster basis to summon
  some of the lesser threats from one of the following:
  the Orcish Mines, the Elven Halls, the Lair of Beasts, the Snake Pit,
  the Swamp, the Shoals, the Spider Nest, the Vaults, the Crypt,
  and the Enchanted Forest.

Glacier Avatar*

Cocytus is the weakest hell currently, and could use something besides high cold damage and torment to serve as the dangers due to being more plain threats than the other parts of extended. Ice itself is an under-utilized element, so using the partially-irresistible aspect of throw icicle on something more dangerous for the previous fits well. Thus, a monster that basically only spawns in Cocytus should, could be made based on the following mechanic / spell:

  • Flash Freeze: flat high BEAM_ICE non-projectile beam with no checks besides line-of-fire (or possibly even smite-targetted depending on how lethal it is in practice) that also gives a Frozen status, which due to the hanging-on weight of such thick ice both gives slow movement for a small, precise number of turns (I suggest 3) and immunity to further damage from being suddenly frozen over by the spell.

I have little specific theme ideas for this monster beyond some kind of greater ice elemental (as the header above states, phrased as a Glacier Avatar) since E is still an open glyph and iron elementals / elemental wellsprings already provide precedent for stronger elementals; it also means another non-demonic threat for extended. Since the majority of the monster is based around the difficult-to-assess strong suggested mechanic, I haven't bothered with determining much else, though it probably should have decent health and not be particularly spammed.

Antaeus could also be less of a one-note terrifying melee-only lord and get the above spell, and pan lords could probably use it too.

Faceted/classed demonspawn for Pan

Meant to provide branch-specific variety, for common/greater demon alternatives. All classes are priests vaguely implied/influenced but not explicitly stated to be worshiping listed gods, for both a coherent theme to the mix that allows more excuses for abilities, plus eventually worsen anti-magic. Most abilities would also be pretty great random pan lord spells.

Base types

Mutation handling would be done by grouping them together into descriptive facets, though there are still potential console glyph colour problems and the notability of sub-type is always an awkward position… Still, it's important to have some minimal coverage to still keep them demonspawn.

  • beastial*: auxes, less ac, more health [robust]
  • gelid: rC++, more ac, icemail
  • infernal: rF++, more ac, af_fire [ignite blood]
  • rotten*: rPois, powered by death (should be exaggerated), always leaves corpse (foul stench has rot problems… but if rot was changed, it'd help a lot)
  • torturous*: augmentation, powered by pain, spines

The most important use of base-type monsters, in a similiar fashion to draconians, would probably be pan fodder, I guess. The cutting of harmless monsters resulted in a lot of strategic damage per floor instead, and even some plain vaguely-important fluff could help a lot with this without heavily changing balance or over-using different monsters instead.


Blood Saint: Makhleb / Vehumet

  • robes, weak weapon, weak melee/stats; these are super-conjurers, after all
  • Legendary Destruction: self-harm to cast an amazing random conjuration: Orb of Electrocution, Crystal Spear, Orb of Destruction (low weight), Ghostly Fireball, Bolt of Fireball, Flash Freeze
    • (Bolt of Fireball): always-hits no damage bolt that causes an explosion in each target
    • (Flash Freeze): see Glacier Avatar above.
  • Ephemeral Infusion: A short-duration temporary quick heal of allies/self, reverting always non-lethally; helps other allies survive considering the unavoidable area-of-effect damage from the main attacks, and fits both god side-abilities. Differs from Renewal By Delay in that it targets everything with a raw large boost of health rather than proportional amounts on individuals, plus isn't tied to the invoker, but these are much later enemies that also hurt their allies readily.

Chaos Champion: Xom

  • highly varied weapon and armour type, good melee/stats, random potion/wand/etc as a Xom gift?
  • Chained Chaos*, using the chain-lightning targetting to deal chaos effects to targets.
  • Mirror of Bedlam*, smite-targeted HD-check that hits both the caster and the player with the same chaos effect.
    • [reminders of example chaos effects: miscast, ensnare, para, slow, haste, berserk, might, invis, duplicate, blink, transform, swift, petrify]
  • A weaker concept and very aggravating debilitative type compared to the rest means this could use more work; still, at least has an interesting dynamic between alone or direct threats.

Warmonger: Okawaru / Trog

  • always ego weapon, high quality equipment, great melee/stats, etc.
  • Icon of Greatness*: summons a combination spectral weapon and battlesphere, activating for strikes only after dealing a select threshold of damage for any allies in LOS, as an expression of Heroism and Finesse.
  • Punishment of Excess*: not a hatred of spellcasting, but a strong dislike of its warping on combat; HD-check hex that adds cumulative negative power enhancers with every spell cast, applied to that spell's skill schools.

Corrupter: Lugonu / Jiyva

  • decent but not great equipment/stats?
  • Plane-rending Theft*: like worldbinder invitation's large reach, but can summon stronger stuff from more places, akin to reverse Corruption; per cast, summons one to three from an announced select branch set in the cast message, placed randomly in target's LOS with a summon cap of 8:
    • Orc - orc high priest / orc sorcerer / orc warlord / iron troll / ogre mage
    • Elf - deep elf sorcerer / deep elf demonologist / deep elf high priest
    • Lair - catoblepas / dire elephant / death yak / (…?)
    • Snake - anaconda / guardian serpent / greater naga
    • Swamp - swamp dragon / hydra / vapour / titanic slime creature
    • Shoals - siren / merfolk javelineer / merfolk aquamancer / alligator snapping turtle
    • Spider - ghost moth / emperor scorpion / orb spider / wolf spider / red wasp
    • Slime - acid blob / azure jelly / titanic slime creature / giant orange brain
    • Vaults - vault sentinel / ironheart preserver / ironbrand convoker / war gargoyle
    • Crypt - vampire knight / flayed ghost / eidolon / deep elf death mage
    • Forest - spriggan enchanter / satyr / treant / thorn hunter / spriggan defender
    • Abyss - starcursed mass / apocalypse crab / thrashing horror / worldbinder
    • Tomb - guardian mummy / sphinx / mummy priest
    • Zot - base draconian / nonbase draconian / golden dragon / moth of wrath
    • Can randomly get smiters, summoners, debilitation, strong conjurations, strong melee… as a variation of Summon Nasties it inherently would be a rather interesting incarnation of highly varied dangerous top summons compared to pan lord Summon Greater Demon/Horrible Things/Eyeballs, but it might be overly complicated for just one monster spell.
      • (Maybe could use a vaguely corrupted status on summons, like the wretched status?)
  • Polymorph?, Bend Space? Player corruption is as important as immediate surroundings corruption to this theme, but there's not much left that doesn't dip into the omni-present Pan strategic damage or overlap with already existent stuff. Maybe temporary mutations centered on a very specific range/theme of “deforming”, at best.

Black Sun*: Kikubaaqudgha / Yredelemnul

  • mediocre equipment/stats?
  • Black Hole* status or possibly LOS-radiance spell, effects all allies and self: the status slightly heals on any successful damage dealing, and drains from targets a random small bit of mp, speed, skill xp, or stats (or in monster cases, antimagic effect, slow, or HD). No rN check.
  • Other spells?: Bolt of Draining?, Dispel Undead, Death's Door (emergency). Not as certain, monster is mostly defined by the status/spell.
Extra notes
  • Covered gods: Kiku Lugonu Makhleb Oka Trog Veh Yred Xom, unused gods: Ash Beogh Chei Fedhas Sif, Ely Zin TSO
    • A blasphemer that straddles good god concepts would be cute…
    • Sif is the only god particularly absent amongst those unused, but generic mages are already heavily covered elsewhere and the current roles already cover a lot of niches, supportive or offensive. Aside from somehow merging with the Xom class, or trying to create something weird with an Ash/Sif theme, there's not much that would also work…
  • Spawns can also be vaguely linked back to the unrand pan lords, and somewhat easily fit into their spawn list sets: rotten demonspawn / black suns for Gloorx Vloq, gelid demonspawn / blood saints for Lom Lobon, infernal demonspawn / warmongers for Cerebov, beastial demonspawn / corrupters for Mnoleg
  • Hrm, even with the gods focus, most still have some obvious analogues: demonspawn warmonger, corrupter, black sun, and blood saint correspond somewhat roughly to deep elf blademaster, demonologist, death mage, and annihilator, though chaos champions are pretty unique. Not sure if really a big concern considering the inevitable roles monster classes fall into, and each monster has some pretty unique stuff.
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user/hangedman.txt · Last modified: 2014-01-10 04:14 by Claws
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